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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - April 17, 2017

Viking Ocean Cruises Orders Two Additional Ships
Viking Ocean Cruises and Fincantieri signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of two additional cruise ships, with an option for another two. The new builds will be sister ships to the six already ordered and will enter Viking's fleet in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The agreement will be effective subject to financing and other customary closing conditions.

The new ships will follow the same successful and award-winning design as the current ships ordered and in operation. The entire fleet is comprised of all-veranda staterooms; each ship has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and accommodates 930 guests in 465 cabins. As with the other sister ships, the new ships will be built according to the latest navigation regulations and equipped with the most modern safety systems, including the “Safe return to port” system.

The first ship built for Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star was delivered at the shipyard in Marghera in spring 2015. The second and the third ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, took the sea from the yard in Ancona, respectively, in early 2016 and early 2017. Viking will take delivery of the fourth ship, Viking Sun, in late 2017 and the fifth ship, Viking Spirit, in 2018. A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019, marking Viking as the largest small ship ocean cruise line.

Viking is forecasted to have a dominant market share of the luxury ocean industry in 2020 of 23.9% (on a per berth basis according to Cruise Industry News). The additional vessels will add to this already impressive statistic. "Our guests and the industry have spoken, and they love the ocean ships that we have built with Fincantieri. In our first year of operation we were named the World’s Best Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure, and we are proud of Viking’s dominance in Cruise Critic’s 2017 Cruisers’ Choice Awards, where we won 10 categories, including ‘Best Overall’ and ‘Best for First-Timers,’” said Torstein Hagen. “We set out to bring the destination back to cruising, and the cruising public has responded. These additional ships are needed to meet the demand we are experiencing. Once only known for being the leading river cruise line, we are now equally known for upscale, inclusive ocean cruise experiences. As we celebrate our 20th year of operation in 2017, we are pleased to continue innovating and to introduce even more guests to The Viking Way of exploration.”

"The extraordinary moment of the cruise sector is continuing, and with this announcement Fincantieri reaffirms its worldwide leadership in the segment. The series – which began with the Viking Star prototype – reaches eight ships with these additional units, with the possibility to further grow thanks to the expansion plans of this dynamic cruise company,” said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. “As the worldwide river cruise leader, Viking decided to enter the ocean cruise segment with a startup together with Fincantieri as shipbuilder, achieving great success. We can but consider this agreement as a strategic and commercial success, which allows us to further strengthen our already excellent partnership with Viking Ocean Cruises."

Carnival and City of Long Beach Start Cruise Terminal Renovations
Carnival Cruise Line marked the beginning of a multimillion-dollar renovation of its Long Beach Cruise Terminal facility to accommodate larger ships and enhance terminal operations. A "FUNstruction" groundbreaking ceremony today included remarks by City of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, President and CEO of Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Steve Goodling and Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Strategic and Commercial Port Development Carlos Torres de Navarra among others.

Carnival unveiled its design plans for the terminal during the celebration. The renovation will increase the space Carnival currently occupies in the terminal facility from approximately 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet. The expansion and new design will allow for a dramatically enhanced passenger experience and operational flow within the terminal. In addition, the project includes the expansion of portside "cold-ironing" to enable larger ships to plug into the local electric grid to reduce exhaust emissions while docked. Further enhancements to the area surrounding the geodesic dome which houses the cruise terminal and the adjacent Queen Mary attraction are also planned.

"The start of construction on this project further cements our commitment to the City of Long Beach and the outstanding relationships we have built with the leaders and people of this community," said Carnival's Torres de Navarra. "Our operations bring tremendous economic benefit to this area and expose hundreds of thousands of people a year to this great city. These new terminal enhancements will further grow that positive impact," he added.

Carnival has run the Long Beach Cruise Terminal — the United States' only privately operated cruise terminal — since 2003. It is one of the busiest terminals in North America, with ships docking at the facility five days per week resulting in a more than 70% utilization rate. Carnival has used just a portion of the geodesic dome that housed Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" museum attraction for customs and guest check-in activities. The renovation will make 100 percent of the dome available for Carnival's cruise operations.

"The expansion of the Carnival Cruise terminal is great news for Long Beach and great news for visitors to our city," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "The added capacity will bring more tourism and economic activity to Long Beach, and we're pleased to continue working with Carnival for many years to come."

Currently, Carnival operates three ships from the Long Beach Cruise Terminal -- Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination, which offer three- and four-day Baja cruises, and Carnival Miracle which operates week-long Mexican Riviera voyages along with 14- and 15-day cruises to Hawaii and Alaska. In 2018 when the larger Carnival Splendor replaces Carnival Miracle, the line will carry more than 700,000 guests annually from Southern California, operating nearly 250 three- to 14-day cruises a year.

In addition to marking the start of the renovation of the cruise terminal, Torres de Navarra announced a donation of $25,000 to the Mayor's Fund for Education. The donation, made jointly by Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival Foundation, is part of Carnival Corporation's ongoing support for nonprofit educational and charitable organizations in the homeport communities where its brands operate.

Norwegian Cruise Line To Add Lifeguards To Fleet
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that the line will begin employing certified lifeguards at all of the family pools across their fleet. The first responders will be trained and certified by the American Red Cross in lifesaving rescue measures and will monitor the family pools during scheduled pool hours.

The lifeguards will begin service this summer on the line's four largest ships - Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic - and on the remainder of the fleet by early 2018.

"Norwegian has stationed pool monitors on our largest ships since 2015 and we are now taking further steps to ensure the safety of our youngest guests with the addition of certified lifeguards across our fleet,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “While parents are always the first line of supervision when it comes to water safety, we felt it was important to provide this added measure across our fleet."

In addition to uniformed lifeguards, Norwegian will also begin offering complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the line's four largest ships. Parents can obtain the safety vests at the towel station on the ship's pool deck during daytime hours.

New Pop-Up Sushi Venues Added to Four Carnival Cruise Line Ships
Following the success of Bonsai Sushi restaurants on several ships, Carnival Cruise Line has rolled out new pop-up sushi venues on four ships – Carnival Conquest, Carnival Valor, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Glory.

The stand-alone eateries are located on Lido Deck and offer variety of sushi, sashimi and rolls on an a la carte basis. Diners place their order at the counter, given a pager, and then paged when their food is ready.

Sushi and sashimi, including Ebi (shrimp), Sake (salmon), Maguro (tuna) and Hamachi (amberjack), are available for $1.50 per piece. California Rolls and Spicy Tuna Rolls are offered at $5 per roll, with Bang Bang Bonsai Roll and Tempura Roll available at $7.50 each.

Complimentary sushi is also available at the Taste Bar appetizer venue and the Lido Restaurants on select nights and for a fee in the Bonsai Sushi full-service restaurants on Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream, Carnival Legend, Carnival Pride, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Vista.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 58.46 + 0.03%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 95.94 - 2.05%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.38 - 0.83
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.96 + 0.87%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Over the years many ocean liners and cruise ships has arrived in New York city to be welcomed by fire boats and cheering crowds. What year did Cunard's Queen Elizabeth first visit New York and what made her maiden voyage so special?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of the first fully air conditioned cruise/passenger ship?

Answer - The first fully air conditioned cruise/passenger ship(s) were the Constitution and Independence of American Export Lines.
courtesy of Bill Miller, New York, NY.


Cruise News - April 10, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Extends Cruises To Cuba Through 2018
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it will further extend its offering of weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba through 2018, with 33 new voyages. The all-inclusive Norwegian Sky will begin her 2018 Cuba cruise season in March, sailing four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami, with 32 of the cruises to include an overnight stay in Cuba’s historical and culturally-rich capital of Havana, as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas. These new cruises will begin on March 26, 2018 and are in addition to the previously announced 30 calls that Norwegian will offer through December 2017. Along with the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can provide, guests sailing on Norwegian Sky will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program.

“Cuba is a spectacular destination and we are seeing incredible demand from our guests to experience the beautiful and cultural-rich city of Havana and her warm and friendly people,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are excited to provide even more opportunities for our guests to experience this incredible destination into 2018.”

Norwegian Sky will transport guests to the very heart of Havana, offering guests the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view incredible art and listen to the vibrant local music scene; and visit with Cuba’s warm and friendly residents through people-to-people exchanges. Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests aboard Norwegian Sky will have the opportunity to have a farm to table dining experience, explore the flora and fauna of Soroa, see modern Havana in an American classic car and much more.

Norwegian Sky’s sailings to Cuba will also feature a call to Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island destination in the Bahamas. Great Stirrup Cay is a private island paradise, with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, watersports galore and lushly landscaped beachside cabanas available for daily rental for those who wish to have a more exclusive island experience. Great Stirrup Cay was recently enhanced to offer guests exciting new ways to enjoy the island with additional pathways, seating and shaded lounge areas, with additional features still to come, including a private luxury lagoon enclave for suite guests and guests of The Haven.

Norwegian Sky’s four-day cruises to Cuba will open for sale on April 20.

Majestic Princess to Sail From Sydney
Princess Cruises has announced that its latest ship, the Majestic Princess, will be based in in Sydney, Australia, over the 2018-19 summer season. With a capacity of 3,560 guests, the Majestic Princess will be the largest Princess ship to ever sail in Australian waters. The newly launched ship sailed on its inaugural voyage from Italy on April 4, 2017. The Majestic Princess will offer cruises in Europe and China before heading to Sydney, where it will be homeported from September 2018 to March 2019.

During the ship's inaugural Australian season, Majestic Princess will sail on 16 cruises to destinations including Fiji, New Zealand and Tasmania as well as two Asia voyages between Shanghai and Sydney, and Sydney and Hong Kong. Fares start from $1,499 per person twin share for a balcony room on a six-night roundtrip cruise to Tasmania departing November 18, 2018.

Majestic Princess offers 13 dining options, including two restaurants with menus designed by Michelin-star chefs - Harmony by Chef Richard Chen and La Mer by Chef Emmanuel Renaut. The ship also has 1,000 square meters of designer shopping, the cruise line's largest ever thermal suite and the Seawalk, an over-the-ocean glass walkway. Guests can choose from a variety of accommodations including suites, Club Class mini-suites and deluxe balcony rooms, with more than 80 percent of the ship's 1,780 staterooms offering private balconies.

The Majestic Princess deployment is part of Princess Cruises' 2018-19 Australia and New Zealand program, on sale April 13, 2017. The program offers almost 100 cruises on four Princess ships - Majestic Princess, Golden Princess, Sun Princess and Sea Princess - sailing from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle and Auckland over a seven-month period.

Princess Cruises Elevates Sabatini's Italian Trattoria
Celebrating the cruise line's Italian heritage, specialty restaurant Sabatini's Italian Trattoria has been delighting millions of Princess Cruises guests with traditional and innovative cuisine since it first debuted aboard Grand Princess in 1998. Nearly 20 years later, Princess Cruises today unveiled a fleetwide enhancement to its signature restaurant in collaboration with acclaimed Italian Chef Angelo Auriana.

Introducing a fresh new design and menu featuring antipasti and handmade pasta dishes from Chef Auriana, as well as family recipes curated from Italian Princess executive chefs across the fleet, the transformed Sabatini's Italian Trattoria debuts aboard Caribbean Princess following a multi-million-dollar drydock. Recognized as one of the "Best Specialty Restaurants at Sea," the Sabatini locations on Caribbean Princess and Grand Princess will offer the new inspired menu this April, with the newly refreshed menu coming across the fleet in the coming months.

Chef Auriana, Executive Chef and partner at the authentic Italian restaurants, The Factory Kitchen and Officine BRERA, in Los Angeles, is inspired by fresh Northern Italian flavors and childhood roots from his hometown of Bergamo.

"Sabatini's has always been a Princess guest favorite and this new collaboration with Chef Auriana elevates our Italian heritage, continuing our fresh approach to authentic Italian dining," said Mario Siebaldi, Princess Cruises senior vice president guest operations. "Also featuring a beautifully transformed ambience, the new Sabatini's Italian Trattoria will delight new and returning guests alike."

Chef Auriana relies on using old world grains like buckwheat and durum that gives semolina the signature pale yellow color and high-protein strength necessary to hold the shape of house made pasta. Non-traditional ingredients—like mint and marjoram—are also infused to showcase Chef Auriana's contemporary flair.

Offerings include:

• Picagge - marjoram-infused long pasta, white prawns, clams, artichoke pesto, ligurian olive oil
• Tortelloni - mint-speckled pasta, roasted lamb, pecorino crosta nera, cacio e pepe sauce, broccoli rabe
• Pappardelle - wide ribbon pasta, celeriac, nebbiolo-braised beef cheek
• Risotto - vialone nano rice, beets dolce latte, gorgonzola, pistachios
• Torchietti - whole wheat pasta, foraged mushrooms, rosemary oil

"In my hometown of Bergamo, Italy, I was born with an appreciation for the beautiful flavors of Northern Italy that I love to incorporate into my cooking," said Chef Auriana. "Now I'm pleased to share that appreciation through delicious new Sabatini's menu items made fresh daily and served exclusively onboard Princess."

More Princess chefs hail from Italy than any other country and their family favorite recipes are featured on the new menu, including:

• Roman Seafood al Cartoccio - grouper, shrimp, black mussels, scallops, potato, artichoke
• Porchetta - rolled pork belly toscana, fennel seeds, potatoes, spinach, roasted tomato
• Breaded Veal Vallet – marjoram roasted potatoes & artichokes, sun-dried tomato, provolone

The re-envisioned Sabatini's Italian Trattoria features a new interior design that reinforces the fresh dining experiences that await guests. A contemporary look reflects the innovative efforts of the Princess culinary staff, while rustic touches serve as a reminder of the traditional Italian specialties that always have been a Sabatini's hallmark.

A superb all Italian wine menu, iconic Italian cocktails and Limoncello liqueurs are available to complement the menu. A $25 per person cover charge includes a four-course dinner, plus dessert.

Sabatini's Italian Trattoria will soon feature pasta making classes for guests, with more details coming soon.

Crystal's 2017 Holiday Voyages Span The Globe
Discerning travelers seeking to fill their holiday wish lists with global adventures and extra-special touches this December, have half a dozen luxury options to suit their preferences. Aboard Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises and even Crystal AirCruises, travelers can treat themselves and their loved ones to holiday memories of a lifetime in virtually every region of the globe. In addition to the selection of destinations to explore, Crystal's roster of sleek and elegant vessels hold enriching vacation experiences, whether guests are traveling with large groups or families, or escaping for a romantic holiday for two.

Crystal Symphony – The 16-day "South African Holidays" cruise sails round-trip from Cape Town, marking Crystal's first-ever holiday voyage in Africa. "Big Five" safaris are offered in South Africa and Mozambique, while authentic village feasts and visits highlight the rich culture of the region.

Crystal Serenity – Now offering two embarkation options, which allow travelers to choose between sailing round-trip from Charleston or Fort Lauderdale, as they embark on a 14- or-15-day (respectively) warm-weather "Holidays in the Caribbean" escape from the winter chill.

Crystal Esprit – The 11-day "Crystal Yachting Christmas" packs the spirit of camaraderie and holiday spirit aboard "Crystal's Boutique Hotel on Water," as guests delve into the elite yachting lifestyle in the posh harbors of the West Indies, sailing round-trip from Marigot Bay, St. Martin.

Crystal Mozart – Sailing round-trip from Vienna on a 13-day "Dazzling Danube Celebration," the first and largest of Crystal River Cruises' fleet offers a grand experience in the heart of some of Europe's most festive locales, including Austria, Germany and Hungary.

Crystal Bach – The 10-day "Spectacular Rhine Holiday" offers just that, as the first of Crystal's two brand new river yachts sails from Amsterdam to Basel, calling charming hamlets that exude the festivities and flavors of the season.

Crystal Mahler – The second brand new Crystal river yacht to embark in 2017 will sail a 16-day "Grand Europe" voyage along the Rhine from Amsterdam to Budapest, focusing on the region's quintessentially sparkling holiday markets, boasting freshly-baked pastries, hot ciders, hand-crafted wares and carols wafting from the cathedrals.

Crystal AirCruises – The elaborate 16-day "Holidays Around the World" private jet tour poses the ultimate gift for any luxury traveler, flying aboard Crystal's privately owned Boeing 777 from Los Angeles, calling in Bora Bora, Queenstown, Sydney, Jaipur and Abu Dhabi.

"The holiday season is a wonderful time for families and loved ones to travel together and create new memories that transcend any gift or tangible item," says Crystal CEO & President, Edie Rodriguez. "The Crystal family aboard our vessels creates a sense of home away from home for guests as they share their holidays with us, whether they're returning after many voyages or embarking on a brand new journey."

Aboard all Crystal holiday sailings, guests will be treated to the traditional festivities of the season, including lavish feasts for Christmas and New Year's, and elegant décor throughout the luxury vessels. Multi-faith services will also be offered on board.

Cunard Partners with The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation
In partnership with The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation, Cunard will pay tribute to the forgotten heroes of World War II, honoring our nation's veterans with a unique enrichment program on board Queen Mary 2's Transatlantic Crossing, August 4-12, 2017.

On this 8-night voyage departing from Southampton, England, guests will have the opportunity to attend lectures and interact with several WWII veterans, hearing first-hand about their experiences during America's involvement in the war. From the "Battle of the Atlantic," to the conflicts in Normandy and Pearl Harbor, these distinguished war heroes will engage in discussions and Q&A's, giving guests a very personal glimpse into the human elements of wartime service.

"Cunard played a pivotal role in World War II, with our liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth transported as troop ships, and together carried over 1.5 million servicemen across the Atlantic, to and from the field of battle," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. "We are honored to partner with The Greatest Generations Foundation to offer our guests this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet these decorated veterans."

Actual WWII veterans scheduled to be on board will include American veterans Arthur Staymates, who stormed Omaha beach in D-Day's first wave with German machine-gun fire hammering on the door of his landing craft; Joseph Reilly, who parachuted into Normandy five hours before the seaborne landing; Douglas Dillard, who made his first parachute combat jump in August 1944 in the South of France; Jack Holder, who was a Naval Flight Engineer stationed on the Island of Oahu and had to take cover during the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor; Michael Ganitch, who served on the USS Pennsylvania and witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor; and Stuart Hedley, also at Pearl Harbor, who recalls leaping from his ship into the water and coming up amid debris and burning oil and swimming for his life towards the shoreline.

Canadian veteran Kenneth Scott, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy and saw wartime action aboard the RMS Aquitania, will also join the voyage. With a normal troop capacity of 7,400, the RMS Aquitania was among the select group of large, fast former passenger ships capable of sailing independently without escort transporting large numbers of troops that were assigned worldwide as needed.

Q&A's and other discussions with the WWII veterans will cover topics including:

• The Battle of the Atlantic: How the Allies Won the War
• Pearl Harbor: An American Sailor's Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor
• The Dead & Those About To Die: The Big Red One At Omaha Beach
• Normandy: D-Day with the Screaming Eagles
• Battle of the Bulge: Alamo in the Ardennes

People In The News
Carnival Corporation announced today that Darrell Campbell joins the company as corporate treasurer, effective April 10, 2017. His responsibilities will include overseeing global treasury operations, risk management, tax compliance and tax strategy. Campbell fills the role currently held by Josh Weinstein, who is transitioning to a new position as president of Carnival UK.

Campbell brings to Carnival Corporation extensive accounting, audit and financial experience. He most recently served as an audit partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, where he led financial statement and internal control audits of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies with revenues over $10 billion and market capitalization up to $40 billion. During his career he has supervised multinational teams, provided regulatory reporting advice for capital market transactions and periodic filings, and co-authored guidance on industry topics including compliance, accounting and financial reporting.

"Darrell brings us nearly two decades of extensive financial experience, and has the depth of expertise and insights to provide critical leadership for this key global role," said David Bernstein, chief financial officer for Carnival Corporation. Campbell will report to Bernstein and will be based at Carnival Corporation's headquarters in Miami.

Campbell is a licensed CPA in Florida and New Hampshire. He has master's degrees in accounting from Florida International University and in international business from the University of Florida. He also holds a bachelor's degree from University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 58.44 - 0.48%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.95 - 0.26%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.40 - 2.13%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.54 - 3.29%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the first fully air conditioned cruise/passenger ship?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of America's only nuclear powered merchant vessel and how many passengers could she carry? Bonus: Where is she now?

Answer - The ship was the Savannah and she carried 60 passengers.She is currently moored at the Canton Marine Terminal in Baltimore, Maryland.
courtesy of John O'Neil, Miami, FL


Cruise News - April 3, 2017

Majestic Princess Delivered To Princess Cruises
On March 30, 2017, Carnival Corporation took delivery of Majestic Princess, from shipbuilder Fincantieri at an official handover ceremony at the shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The cruise line's first international luxury ship tailored for the China market, will start her inaugural season in Europe until May and then embark on a repositioning cruise themed the Silk Road Sea Route journey to her new homeport in Shanghai where she will begin her first homeport season in July.

The ceremony was attended by the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni; executives from Carnival Corporation & plc including Micky Arison, Chairman; Arnold Donald, Chief Executive Officer; Stein Kruse, Chief Executive Officer of Holland America Group; Jan Swartz, Group President of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia; Anthony Kaufman, Executive Vice President International Operations of Princess Cruises; and Cherry Wang, Vice President and General Manager of the Princess Cruises' brand offices in China. Fincantieri was represented by Giuseppe Bono, Chief Executive Officer, and Giampiero Massolo, Chairman.

"Majestic Princess has arrived and we are thrilled to add this new jewel to our crown representing the newest, most stylish and most luxurious flagship to our fleet," said Jan Swartz Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia group president. "We are ready to deliver an exceptional international cruise vacation experience to our guests."

"Fincantieri proudly delivers Majestic Princess today to our long-term partner, Princess Cruises," said Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri's Chief Executive Officer and SEVP Merchant Ships Business Unit ad interim. "The collaboration between Fincantieri, Carnival Corporation & plc and Princess Cruises to tailor Majestic Princess for China makes her special for us. We are proud to deliver this stunningly beautiful luxury cruise liner and highly value the partnership we have with Princess Cruises dating back to the 1980's. We will continue to deliver increasingly sophisticated ships in the future that serve the needs of our partners and their treasured guests."

After the successful handover from Fincantieri, Majestic Princess sets sail on a preview cruise (March 31 to April 4) that will include loyal Princess guests, international media, travel agent partners and brand partners from around the world, including many guests from China.

Departing April 4, 2017, the 143,000-ton Majestic Princess will sail on her inaugural voyage, a five-day Adriatic Sea cruise roundtrip from Rome with stops in Kotor and Corfu. Following her maiden cruise, Majestic Princess will tour Europe, offering guests a chance to experience the ship on 7-, 14-, 21- and 28-day cruises departing from Rome, Barcelona or Athens.

On May 21, Majestic Princess will embark on the "Silk Road Sea Route" a 49-day journey from Rome to Shanghai. During the voyage she will visit a total of 22 ports including Athens, Dubai, Cochin, Singapore, Port Klang and Xiamen before arriving in Shanghai, her new homeport in China. Majestic Princess will begin her first cruise from China on July 11 carrying 3,560 guests to a variety of cruise destinations.

Viking Line has Signed a Shipbuilding Contract
Viking Line announced this week that it has signed a conditional shipbuilding contract with the Chinese company Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry Co. concerning a new passenger cruise ship for the Turku (Finland)–Åland Islands–Stockholm (Sweden) route, delivery in 2020.

A final agreement is subject to the approval of the Board of Directors of both the buyer and the seller, as well as financial arrangements entered. The total contract amount is about 194 million euros. The agreement also includes an option on another vessel.

The new vessel will be a collaborative project, and the plan is to engage several Finnish and other European suppliers. This energy-efficient vessel will be 218 metres in length and have a gross registered tonnage of about 63,000 tonnes. Passenger capacity will be 2,800 people, and the length of its cargo lanes will be 1,500 metres. Environmental considerations and energy efficiency will be very important in planning and building the ship.

Viking Line will hire Scandinavian architects for the interior design. The new vessel will provide a brand-new passenger experience for guests.

Norwegian Jade Journeys To The Caribbean As A Nearly New Ship
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade sailed into her seasonal homeport of Tampa as an essentially new vessel this morning, following a three week dry dock where she received enhancements to every part of the onboard experience, from two brand new restaurants and two new bars and lounges, updated design and décor in many public spaces, and a refurbishment of all staterooms. Norwegian Jade’s extensive renovation is a part of The Norwegian Edge™, an investment program that sets a high standard of excellence encompassing the entire guest experience across Norwegian’s fleet. Norwegian Jade’s extensive enhancements come just in time for her highly anticipated summer season, the brand’s first ever complete season sailing from Hamburg, Germany to the Norwegian Fjords, with embarkation also available in the UK. “We’re thrilled to welcome Norwegian Jade back into the fleet with her new stylish finishes and modernized onboard atmosphere,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief executive officer. “It is our sincere goal to deliver a fantastic vacation experience across our entire fleet, and this update to Norwegian Jade is an opportunity for us to enhance the ship’s hardware to match the fantastic guest experience our hardworking crew delivers to our guests every day.”

Norwegian Jade guests can now enjoy two new restaurants, as well as redesigned spaces in many of the ship’s existing restaurants. Norwegian’s 24-hour neighborhood pub-style restaurant, O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, has been added to deck eight. Serving up cold brews and snack-time favorites in a relaxed atmosphere, the new venue features modern flooring, refurbished front and back bars and new banquet seating. The Pit Stop, a newly installed concept for Norwegian Jade, will serve up poolside fun and fare in a 1950s-style American diner atmosphere, clad with vintage license plates, gas station signage and classic car elements.

Moderno Churrascaria received a new home on deck 13 and features a new upscale glass door entrance, floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for stunning panoramic views of the ocean enhanced by new flooring, wall coverings and upgraded furniture. Now, even more Norwegian Jade guests can enjoy Cagney’s Steakhouse, as the ever-popular restaurant has added additional seating to the completely refurbished space, which offers a new color scheme befitting of a classic steakhouse, upgraded flooring, new wall linings and an intimate new virtual fireplace. La Cucina, Norwegian’s signature Italian specialty restaurant, received an elegant modernization with several new features including updated décor and furniture, flooring, a new decorative bar and an impressive wine display wall. Teppanyaki, Norwegian’s Japanese hibachi grill restaurant, was enhanced with updated furnishings and fittings while complimentary favorites Jasmine Garden and the Garden Café also received extensive enhancements including newly designed spaces with upgrades to furniture, new flooring and much more.

Those looking to dance the night away aboard Norwegian Jade can now do so in the chic new Bliss Ultra Lounge on deck seven, which has the feel of an upscale Miami nightclub and features a cool color palette of silvers, greys and black. Guests who wish to indulge in an exotic cocktail can enjoy their favorite mojito, or opt for a flight and try them all, at the new Sugarcane Mojito Bar on deck 13 adjacent to Moderno Churrascaria, a Norwegian fan favorite since the concept debuted on Norwegian Getaway in 2014. Sugarcane features, new granite bar fronts, as well as new furnishings and finishes. Norwegian Jade’s Spinnaker Lounge also received a complete redesign of the entire space to include new flooring and window treatments, decorative chandeliers, reupholstered seating and refurbished bars with contemporary mosaic tiling and LED lighting.

Every stateroom on the ship was enhanced during this renovation, with all receiving new carpets, furniture, flat screen TVs, new larger headboards with USB charging outlets and more than 2000 new pieces of artwork. Guests sailing in The Haven, Norwegian’s ship-within-a-ship luxury suite concept, will now enjoy a more modern chic atmosphere in all suites and villas, as they now feature new finishes to walls and ceilings, new flooring throughout the suites and balconies, plus new soft goods and drapery. Norwegian Jade’s villas and suites also received more than 250 new pieces of artwork alone. Luxury has been taken to the next level aboard Norwegian Jade with a complete refurbishment of the ship’s Haven Courtyard. Guests of the ship’s top villas and suites can soak up the sun in style one of the Haven’s four new plush cabanas nestled at the top of the ship or take a dip in the newly refinished pool surrounded by modern furnishings and new artwork.

The Atrium, the heart of the action on Norwegian Jade, has been enhanced with a refreshed look and décor brought to life with an eye-catching, custom-designed marquee chandelier, as well as new modern finishes in modern calming grey tones, updated flooring, enhanced reception and shore excursion areas, a new large TV screen and relaxed banquette seating so guests can relax in a contemporary lounge atmosphere while enjoying all of the ship’s excitement. Norwegian Jade will also now offers guests easier ways to view and purchase mementos of their cruise vacation with an upgraded Photo Gallery featuring new individual digital monitors and larger photo display panels, along with sleek furniture and tile flooring. The ship’s main pool deck was also touched by this extensive refurbishment, with the addition of glistening new lighting fixtures as well as new flooring and tiling around the pool and whirlpools.

Norwegian Jade now offers fitness enthusiasts the opportunity to work up a sweat with all-new TechnoGym fitness equipment and new rubber flooring, ideal for weightlifting and plyometric workouts. Junior cruisers aboard Norwegian Jade can now enjoy playtime with new floorings in Splash Academy that include new noise reducing mats so kids are free to play into the evening hours. The ship’s elevator landings were also all refurbished with updated interior finishes and flooring, new wall coverings, new carpet and updated light fixtures.

Norwegian Jade is currently sailing the final part of her winter season, cruising from Tampa to the Western Caribbean. On April 30, she will journey across the Atlantic to her summer homeports of Southampton and Hamburg, where she’ll sail the Norwegian Fjords as well as Norway & North Cape itineraries.

Risk Averse Couple Sails on 200th Carnival Cruise
When Bernard and Janice Caffary boarded the Carnival Liberty last week, they stepped into the record books, becoming the first guests to ever sail on 200 cruises with Carnival Cruise Line. What’s even more remarkable is that the risk averse Caffarys achieved this feat in just 15 years, meaning that the couple averages nearly 15 cruises a year with Carnival, making them among the most loyal guests at sea.

Overall the Caffarys have spent a whopping 878 days – more than two and a half years –aboard Carnival Cruise Line ships. And the fun isn’t going to stop any time soon as the couple has another 30 cruises booked with the line.

To commemorate their 200-cruise milestone, the Carnival Liberty team rolled out the red carpet, going all out to make the Caffary’s cruise extra special and memorable.

The VIP treatment began as soon as they arrived in Port Canaveral with welcoming signage throughout the terminal and ship. During the cruise, the Caffarys received a number of commemorative gifts and unique onboard experiences. They were also the guests of honor during special VIP celebrations held both in the ship’s atrium and the main show lounge attended by dozens of Carnival Liberty team members.

Carnival Liberty operates year-round three- and four-day cruises from Port Canaveral.

HAL Names Frits van der Werff Vice President, Food and Beverage
Holland America Line has named Frits van der Werff to the position of vice president, food and beverage within the Guest Experience and Product Development Department. In this role, van der Werff will oversee all of the culinary operations as well as manage beverage operations for the Holland America Line fleet, including revenue activities, product innovation and service.

The Netherlands native, who will be based in Seattle at the Holland America Line headquarters, will report to Michael Smith, senior vice president, guest experience and product development, as well as have reporting responsibilities to Paul Goodwin, executive vice president, onboard revenue and port/shore operations, for Holland America Group.

"Holland America Line is highly respected for the culinary and beverage experiences onboard our ships, and we're thrilled to have someone of Frits' caliber join our team in this leadership role," said Smith. "Frits brings a wealth of high-end food and beverage and cruise experience to our company, and we look forward to tapping into his knowledge and expertise as we continue to evolve our brand and our food and beverage offerings."

Most recently van der Werff was brand performance director at MSC Cruises where he was the project leader for food and beverage and hotel operations in the North American market. Additional cruise line experience includes director, restaurant operations and development at Norwegian Cruise Line.

Van der Werff has extensive experience outside of the cruise industry, having served as director of operations for Fisher Island Club on Florida's most exclusive private island; director of food and beverage for both the St. Regis Resort & Spas in Aspen, Colorado, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and director of food and beverage for One Bal Harbour Resort and Spa in Miami, Florida.

Van der Werff holds a Bachelor of International Hospitality Management degree from Stenden University in the Netherlands.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 58.72 - 0.25%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.70 - 1.59%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.35 - 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.19 - 1.63%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of America's only nuclear powered merchant vessel and how many passengers could she carry? Bonus: Where is she now?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Two steamship companies, one still in business and mighty powerful, were named P&O. The "P" for both companies stands for "peninsular". What does the "O" stand for in each name? (The "O" is for a different word for each.)

Answer - The largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag is Pride of America for NCL.
courtesy of Byron Clayton, Singapore


Cruise News - March 27, 2017

Norwegian Joy Begins Her Journey To China With Conveyance Along The Ems River
Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Cruise Line’s first custom-designed ship for the Chinese cruise market, began her journey to her home port of Shanghai, China this week, as she departed the MEYER WERFT shipyard in Papenburg, Germany on Sunday, March 26 for her approximately 14-hour long conveyance along the Ems River.

Norwegian Joy’s river conveyance marks another key milestone in the ship's highly anticipated delivery. Measuring 1,094 feet long and 136 feet wide, the ship is the second in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class and the first that was purpose-built for China.

for the Chinese cruise market, she will offer a First Class at Sea experience for our guests and we cannot wait to officially welcome her to the fleet this June.”

The 168,800–gross-ton Norwegian Joy departed MEYER WERFT at approximately 9:00 pm local time, making a narrow passage in reverse through the shipyard's locks, passing the structure with just 1.2 meters separating the ship from the "bumpers" installed along the locks. The ship’s navigation team, led by experienced yard captains and River Ems pilots, included several navigation officers in charge of overseeing the bow maneuvers and others overseeing the movement of the stern. Several local authorities and other partners were also involved in supporting this precise maneuver.

After passing through the sea lock in Papenburg, Norwegian Joy continued along the river, stern first. Due to the strong propulsion in the aft section of the vessel, traveling stern first helps with maneuverability, which is a key component when navigating the vessel through such narrow passages.

Before reaching her final destination in Eemshaven, Netherlands on Monday evening, March 27, Norwegian Joy passed through additional narrow passages including a railway Bridge in Weener; Jann-Berghaus Bridge in Leer and Ems-Barrier in Gandersum. Upon arrival in the Dutch port of Eemshaven, Norwegian Joy will take on additional provisions and further crew members, before heading toward the North Sea for sea trials later this month.

Following her delivery on April 27, Norwegian Joy sets sail for China, where she will be showcased through a grand inaugural port tour featuring one-day events at the ports of Qingdao, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, as well as VIP partner cruises from Norwegian Joy’s home-ports of Shanghai and Tianjin. This unique showcase tour will give travel agents and valued partners across the region the special opportunity to experience all that Norwegian Joy has to offer leading up to the ship’s christening ceremony on June 27, led by her Godfather, iconic Mandopop artist Wang Leehom. The spectacular inaugural celebration in Shanghai will include an exclusive concert and overnight cruise for honored guests.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports First Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation announced U.S. GAAP net income of $352 million, or $0.48 diluted EPS, for the first quarter of 2017 compared to U.S. GAAP net income for the first quarter of 2016 of $142 million, or $0.18 diluted EPS. First quarter 2017 adjusted net income of $279 million, or $0.38 adjusted EPS, compared to adjusted net income of $301 million, or $0.39 adjusted EPS, for the first quarter of 2016. Adjusted net income excludes unrealized gains and losses on fuel derivatives and other net charges, totaling $73 million in gains for the first quarter 2017 and $159 million of losses for the first quarter 2016. Revenues for the first quarter of 2017 of $3.8 billion were higher than the $3.7 billion in the prior year.

"Carnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "We are off to a good start delivering another quarter of operational improvement on top of a very strong first quarter last year. Our performance was driven by increased demand, particularly for our core Caribbean itineraries, leading to higher year-over-year ticket prices which enabled us to overcome the significant negative impact of both fuel and currency to exceed the high end of our guidance range."

Key information for the first quarter 2017 compared to the prior year:

• Gross revenue yields (revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 0.1 percent. In constant currency, net revenue yields increased 3.8 percent for 1Q 2017, better than December guidance of up 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
• Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD increased 2.9 percent. In constant currency, net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 3.2 percent, compared to December guidance of up 1.5 to 2.5 percent, due to the timing of certain expenses.
• Changes in fuel prices (including realized fuel derivatives) and currency exchange rates decreased earnings by $0.13 per share.

Highlights during the first quarter included the January announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada of a potential breakthrough guest experience innovation the Ocean Platform -- featuring Ocean Medallion. The experience will debut on Princess Cruises' Regal Princess in November 2017 followed by additional Princess ships in 2018.

Fleet enhancement milestones included the official debut of Seabourn Cruises' newest ship, Seabourn Encore, with its naming ceremony in Singapore. International recording artist and world's best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman presided over the naming ceremony as godmother of the stunning new 600-guest ship. Additionally, Carnival said that it signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build two new cruise ships. The first is designated for Holland America Line to be delivered in 2021 with the second for Princess Cruises in 2022.

Also during the quarter, following the Corporation's historic sailings from the U.S. to Cuba through its Fathom brand, Carnival Cruise Line received approval to begin operating cruises to Cuba. Carnival Paradise will be the largest cruise ship to sail to Cuba from the U.S. when it begins calling in Havana in June 2017.

2017 Outlook

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2017 are well ahead of the prior year at considerably higher prices. During the quarter, both booking volumes and pricing for the remainder of 2017 have been running ahead of last year.

Donald commented, "Wave season, our peak booking period, was strong leaving us well positioned with bookings at considerably higher prices and with less inventory remaining for sale in 2017 compared to the prior year, resulting in increased earnings guidance. We are clearly benefiting from our efforts to increase cruise consideration through guest experience innovations, creative marketing, and public relations programs. We are reaching consumers through multiple touch points and laying the foundation for continued earnings improvement and sustained double digit returns on invested capital."

Carnival said that it expects full year 2017 net revenue yields in constant currency to be up approximately 3 percent compared to the prior year, better than December guidance of up approximately 2.5 percent. Carnival said that it continues to expect full year net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD in constant currency to be up approximately 1 percent compared to the prior year. Changes in fuel prices (including realized fuel derivatives) and currency exchange rates compared to the prior year are expected to decrease earnings by $0.35 per share.

Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it expects full year 2017 adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $3.50 to $3.70 compared to December guidance of $3.30 to $3.60 and 2016 adjusted earnings per share of $3.45.

Second Quarter 2017 Outlook

Second quarter constant currency net revenue yields are expected to be up approximately 2.5 to 3.5 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD in constant currency for the second quarter of 2017 are expected to be higher by approximately 1.5 to 2.5 percent compared to the prior year. Changes in fuel prices (including realized fuel derivatives) and currency exchange rates compared to the prior year are expected to decrease earnings by $0.12 per share. Based on the above factors, Carnival said that it expects adjusted earnings per share for the second quarter 2017 to be in the range of $0.43 to $0.47 versus 2016 adjusted earnings per share of $0.49.

Princess Announces Largest Food & Beverage Innovation Ever to Take Place during a Drydock
When Caribbean Princess debuts from a two-week, multi-million-dollar renovation on April 6, Princess Cruises will have completed its largest food and beverage innovation to ever take place during a drydock and guests will delight in seven new onboard dining destinations.

"Fresh, regionally-inspired and family friendly offerings were the inspiration behind our largest food and beverage makeover ever," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "With updated décor and designs that offer a welcoming atmosphere, the seven new dining options aboard Caribbean Princess are sure to please any palate and delight the senses."

The new dining options aboard Caribbean Princess include:

World Fresh Marketplace – Replacing Horizon Court (deck 14), World Fresh Marketplace unveils a completely new look and improved layout, featuring freshly-made regional specialties and well-balanced food choices:

• Breakfast will include 24-hour cereal stations; a designer pancake station with "pancake of the day" stacks; unique hot cereal offerings such as shrimp & grits and polenta porridge.
• Lunch serves up signature hand-crafted sandwiches, regionally inspired dishes and soups, as well as carvery selections of specialty sausages, hams and roast meats.

Dinner selections include breakfast at night with omelets and chicken & waffles, family kitchen comfort foods and a kid-friendly PB&J bar. Night-time offerings will also include a live-action station with stir-fry and customized pasta, plus composed salad choices.

Two Casual Specialty Restaurants - Café Caribe (deck 14 aft) transforms into two new, casual evening specialty restaurants great for families with kids who want to enjoy a special meal in a nice, yet laid back setting. These options include:

• Planks BBQ – serving up family-style "Planks" of loaded ribs, beef, sausages and chicken plus all the fixings – fries, chili, coleslaw, charred toast and dill pickles. Dinner is served by wait staff for a cover charge of $12 per person. Complimentary buffet-style breakfast and lunch options include savory customizable breakfast bowls and signature soup, freshly tossed salads and fork & knife sandwiches.
• Steamers Seafood – offers east coast-style Steamers with regional flair including Black & Blue Mussels, Scallops & Sausage, Classic Clams, Shrimp and Sausage and Broiled Scallops, Shrimp and Crab-stuffed Flounder. Dinner is served by wait staff for a cover charge of $12 per person. A delectable lobster tail and King Crab legs can be added for $10.
• Complimentary buffet-style breakfast and lunch options include specialty egg dishes and ramen bowls with regionally-inspired broths.

Top-Deck Dining Venues – Four Princess top-deck outdoor dining offerings will be revitalized, renamed and enhanced, including: • Slice (formerly Pizzeria) – featuring west coast and east coast offerings, Princess guests will enjoy award-winning signature classic Neapolitan-style pizza. New menu items include Deep Dish Focaccia layered with marinara, meatballs and cheese, California Artisanal Toast including Cali-Avocado or Caprese, as well as Sliced Stromboli, an east coast take on an Italian calzone filled with deli meats and cheese.
• Coffee & Cones (formerly Scoops) – offering treats of gourmet ice-cream sandwiches, complimentary ice cream cones and now brewing specialty coffee on the top deck, serving New Grounds Crafted Coffee.
• The Mix (formerly Blackbeard's Bar) – the poolside bar will be updated and redesigned with vibrant colors (full designs will be completed by fall 2017).

In addition to the food and beverage innovations, Caribbean Princess will emerge from drydock with new offerings appealing to families, including Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Centers, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and interconnecting staterooms, just in time for the upcoming Europe summer and fall Caribbean seasons. The cruise ship will also be wired for the Ocean Medallion launch that will be available for the 2018 summer Caribbean season.

Azamara Club Cruises Announces 2019 Voyages
Azamara Club Cruises, the boutique cruise line known for its premier destination-immersive voyages, today unveiled its 2019 itineraries to a record 250 ports of call, including 45 maiden ports, 69 countries, 94 overnight stays, and 145 late night stays. New offerings will include Azamara's first-ever sailings to Alaska, 9 Special Events Voyages and 9 Country Intensive Voyages.

"Our 2019 itineraries span the world with new ports and destinations such as Alaska and go deeper than ever before into local cultures with one-of-a-kind experiences that you can't find through local tour services. We are confident that our growing number of first-time and millennial cruisers, along with repeat customers, will find that the new itineraries offer the type of personalized and unique experiences they seek," said Larry Pimentel, President & CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. "With the new itineraries, we are continuing to build upon our Stay Longer, Experience More brand positioning, with more onshore opportunities that allow guests to connect with locals for enriching travel moments, both on land and at sea."

Introducing Alaska
Azamara is offering a variety of Alaska experiences through 11 dynamic voyages each spanning eight to 10 days between May and September of 2019. The line's new Alaska voyages will feature more time in port with many late night stays, allowing nighttime experiences in this amazing land of the Midnight Sun. Our itineraries will feature a combination of marquee ports, as well as unique and out-of-the-ordinary ports. Our complimentary AzAmazing Evenings events will feature localized and authentic experiences, and carefully curated optional shore excursions in small groups of 20 – 25 guests will bring Alaska to life for our guests. Intimate shore excursion highlights include:

• Haines off the Beaten Path – Meet Local: Take a scenic drive to Picture Point along the Chilkat River to visit the artists' enclave of Mud Bay with a special tour of Extreme Dreams Art Studio – a handcrafted timber-frame gallery filled with unique creations by select local artisans. Then, return to Haines for a guided visit to the quirky yet fascinating Hammer Museum.
• Icy Strait Point – Taste Local: In Alaska's wildest kitchen, guests can capture the essence of real Alaskan flavors with fresh seafood tasting in a rustic setting hosted by an Alaskan fisherman and an expert filleting demonstration.
• Juneau Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier – Adventure Local: A dynamic helicopter ride to the Mendenhall Glacier is followed by an exhilarating dog sledding journey with about 300 spirited Alaskan huskies.
• Skagway White Pass Legacy Club Luxury Railway Experience – View Local: Experience the dramatic beauty of Southeast Alaska in opulence while traveling aboard the White Pass & Yukon Route's luxurious Legacy Club Car, featuring your very own private guide.

Azamara's Land & Sea Experiences include pre- and post-voyage land programs of two to six nights, combining the cruise with land programs for a truly immersive experience. Curated Land & Sea Experiences include Untamed Alaska, Native Villages for an authentic and traditional community gathering, riverboat cruising, or an afternoon in a local dog handler kennel, learning about the famed Iditarod Dogsled race where guests can meet with some furry and friendly Alaskan Huskies.

More 2019 Voyage Highlights
The line's immersive itineraries feature longer stays and more overnights across destinations worldwide, including smaller ports that the ships are just the right size to visit, many of which larger ships can't, making it more convenient to experience many marquee destinations directly off the ships.

• Golf Local with Perry Golf: In partnership with Perry Golf, Azamara has eight new voyages for golf enthusiasts that include The British Open in Portrush, Northern Ireland and The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
• Special Event Voyages: Azamara caters to niche travel interests with a handful of once-in-a-lifetime experiences worth celebrating with front row access to some of the biggest festivals and events around the world. Premier events include two Formula One races (the Monaco Grand Prix and Spanish Grand Prix), the Cannes Film Festival, a round-trip California Wine Cruise from Los Angeles and an Annular Solar Eclipse voyage through the Indian Ocean. The line will also be in Edinburgh for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo thought of by many as the "greatest show on earth", and on the Azamara Journey's 28-May-2019 voyage, guests will experience the 75th anniversary of D-Day, as well as the once every five years Rouen Festival featuring many of the world's largest and most beautiful tall ships.
• Country Intensive Voyages: Azamara is the first brand to launch Country Intensive Voyages which allow guests to experience a country in-depth, effortlessly and conveniently immersing themselves in the culture, places and things in a variety of destinations within the country. These itineraries consist of most – if not all – ports of call within the destination. Japan, one of the new intensive voyages, offers 13 ports in 15 days throughout a circumnavigation of the country allowing experiences in every part of the country. Other countries include New Zealand, Mexico, Norway, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia and Greece.
• 45 Maiden Ports of Call: 2019 will see Azamara sailing to a record 45 maiden ports of call including Aalborg, Denmark; Lorient, France; Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; Boracay Island, Philippines; Stewart Island, New Zealand and many more.

Azamara's recently launched Cruise Global, Connect Local land programs offer an unprecedented variety of over one thousand new and existing intimate shore excursions. Custom experiences curated by Azamara's expert team accommodate every travel style whether it be an interest in experiencing local life behind the scenes (Cruise Global, Meet Local), food and wine (Cruise Global, Taste Local), guided historic tours (Cruise Global, View Local), enjoy exclusive, custom after-dinner experiences (Cruise Global, Nights Local), biking (Cruise Global, Bike Local) and much more. Opportunities to travel deeper are endless. Additionally, all guests experience complimentary, bespoke AzAmazing Evenings that provide true cultural immersion and local entertainment in places like a French chateaux, Caribbean gardens, Spanish forts, Russian ballet halls and Roman amphitheaters.

With a maximum of 25 guests per on-shore excursion, Azamara offers a more intimate connection, more local experience and more peace-of-mind. Every excursion is designed and delivered by locals who provide an authentic perspective and individual interaction and are trusted tour operators that provide the highest level of quality, service and convenience.

Azamara's Boutique Hotels at Sea were recently redesigned, and guests onboard the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest receive warm, authentic and personal service and enjoy fine cuisine and boutique wines from around the world, as well as inclusive amenities, such as gratuities; complimentary bottled water, sodas, specialty coffee and teas, wines from around the world, international beers and select standard spirits in the ships' bars, lounges and restaurants; complimentary self-service laundry; English Butler service for suite guests; and shuttle transportation to city centers in ports, where available. The 690-guest ships deliver a true boutique hotel atmosphere with a contemporary design that is inspired by the destinations Azamara visits.

Viking Cruises Launches New Resident Historian Program
Viking Cruises today announced the rollout of its new onboard Viking Resident Historian program. Launching on Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky this month, a carefully selected faculty of historians will provide an enhanced level of enrichment for guests onboard all of Viking's ocean cruise ships. A new video on the Resident Historian program can be found on the Viking website.

Dr. Charles Doherty, Chief Viking Resident Historian The Viking Resident Historians will provide guests with a high-level historical and cultural education that is specific to their journey, offering a framework for understanding the major chapters in world history. They will also conduct seminar-style roundtables – smaller, more intimate forums for discussion with guests, where the Viking Resident Historian will examine in-depth subjects related to their own area of specialization and/or particular areas of interest of the guests.

"Our guests are explorers – they are curious travelers who want to learn," said Karine Hagen, Senior Vice President of Viking Cruises, who leads Viking's enrichment efforts. "Having a fundamental understanding of iconic historical events in the destinations our guests visit helps bring a deeper understanding of the present – and perhaps also a better perspective on the future."

The Viking Resident Historians have been engaged to provide a history course as a refresher, which is then supplemented by onboard Guest Lecturers who contribute their particular expertise (art, architecture, music, etc.) of the region. The responsibilities of Viking Resident Historians extend well beyond just lectures during each cruise itinerary and include:

• Presenting itinerary iconic lectures (examples in Europe and Scandinavia include: The Roman Empire; The Ottoman Empire; The Hanseatic League; Imperial Russia) Conducting roundtable discussions (examples include: The Elgin Marbles; Women Explorers; Venetian Naval Power)
• Hosting history-themed dinner discussions onboard
• Holding daily "office hours" for one-on-one time with guests
• Being available for guest questions and interactions outside lectures and office hours throughout the itinerary

The Viking Resident Historian lectures are exclusively produced by Viking, under the tutelage of Dr. Charles Doherty, Chief Viking Resident Historian. The lectures are standardized as a core curriculum to guarantee consistency throughout the fleet, regardless of which Viking Resident Historian is lecturing. As with other onboard lectures, the Viking Resident Historian series will be presented in The Theater – and each will also be filmed and made available for guests on the in-room entertainment system. Additionally, the series is currently being professionally filmed in-studio, and in early 2018 will be available in its entirety on-demand through the in-room entertainment system on all Viking river and ocean ships. Charles Doherty, PhD, has lectured in more than 60 countries for The National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Doherty received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and attended the Courtauld Institute in London as a Fulbright Scholar.

The first three Viking Resident Historians that will be featured onboard Viking's three ocean cruise ships this spring are:

• Dr. Mark Callaghan holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of London, an M.A. in Art History from Oxford University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Manchester. Dr. Callaghan is a specialist in 20th century European art and culture and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Sky on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.
• Lt. Colonel Tony Coutts-Britton is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and served with the British Army in Europe and Asia – and later with NATO in the Partnership for Peace program. Lt. Col. Coutts-Britton lectures on the social and political aspects of European military history and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Sea on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.
• Dr. Fenella Bazin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool, is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and is a Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool's Center for Manx Studies. Dr. Bazin is a specialist in the Age of the Vikings and modern Norway and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Star on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.

Princess Cruises to Add Guest Experience Platform to Two More Cruise Ships
As a new era of cruise personalization and game-changing guest service nears, Carnival Corporation & plc's (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) international premium brand, Princess Cruises, will soon prepare two more vessels with the world's first interactive guest experience platform as the Caribbean Princess and Regal Princess transition into Medallion Class ships during dry docks taking place over the next six weeks.

Carnival Corporation Introduces Ocean MedallionCarnival Corporation's proprietary xIoT network, which is enabled by the Ocean Medallion™, will be installed on the Caribbean Princess during an extensive two-week dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas, March 26-April 6, followed by a dry dock of sister ship Regal Princess April 14-30 in Hamburg, Germany.

During the upgrades, work teams will run roughly 75 miles of cable, install almost 7,000 sensors, 650 experience-edge computing devices and 1,780 in-cabin Wi-Fi access points on each ship.

In addition, a total of 4,030 additional guest portals – in the form of stateroom door access panels, interactive touch-screen TVs and public area displays – will be added throughout each ship, allowing guests to easily access their own personal digital concierge featuring an endless number of guest experiences customized uniquely for them.

Medallion Class vacations debut in November aboard the Regal Princess at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, followed in spring 2018 by the Caribbean Princess. The Royal Princess, which underwent its transition during its dry dock last fall in Paloma, Italy, will make its first Medallion Class voyage in January 2018.

Announced at CES 2017 in January, the Ocean Medallion goes well beyond the growing number of wearables used by theme parks and other vacation companies by leaving behind the required action of "tap" and ushering in a new paradigm for guest interactions.

Medallion Class will make cruising more personal, immersive, simple and seamless than previously considered possible. At the heart of this personalized experience is the Ocean Medallion, which enables endless vacation possibilities. The Ocean Medallion has no discernible technology – no on-off switch, no charging, no menu to navigate – and can be worn as a pendant, on a wristband, in a clip or simply placed in a pocket to reveal enhanced services and personalized experiences without guests having to push a button or take any action. The pre-cruise engagement will allow guests to provide preferences that detail their wants, needs and desires so that their onboard experience can be personalized.

Pairing with the Ocean Medallion is the Ocean Compass™ – a personal digital concierge accessible by all guests using interactive displays throughout the ship, on stateroom TVs, via guests' own smart devices or through a crew member. For example, guests can find their way to venues around the ship; make reservations at the Lotus Spa, specialty dining restaurants and shore excursions; arrange celebrations; view photographs; learn about the destinations they will visit and activities at each port of call and more. The Ocean Compass will invite guests to experiences based on their individual needs, wants and desires.

Some of the initial service innovations include:

• Ocean Ready™: Expedites embarkation as required information is added to the guest profile at home.

• Stateroom Access: The Ocean Medallion will unlock a guest's stateroom door – replacing the key card.

• HERE & NOW™: Guests can place food and beverage orders and have them delivered to select locations.

• THERE & THEN™: Guests can place select food and beverage orders and have them delivered to where they plan to be at a designated time.

• Ocean Navigate: Accessed through the Ocean Compass, guests can learn the whereabouts of their family as they enjoy activities throughout the ship and be guided seamlessly in finding their way around the ship. Friends and family will also be able to easily communicate with each other through a seamless messaging service.

Looking for Some Good Laughs? Take a Cruise Vacation as Cruise Lines are World's Largest Providers of Live Comedy
As experienced cruisers know and first-timers quickly discover, there is something to laugh out loud about on the high seas. Some of the top stand-up comedians in the world come on board cruise ships to entertain.

Catch a comedy act on Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, British line P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia or the three oceanliners of Cunard and you may recognize a comedian you've seen on TV or at a comedy club. Bonus: The shipboard shows are free.

Carnival Cruise Line alone hosts 24,000 performances a year by comics in intimate Punchliner Comedy Clubs on its 25 ships – making the cruise line the largest provider of live comedy in the world.

"Laughter is a universal language and our guests really love to get together and laugh," says Chris Nelson, director of entertainment for Carnival Cruise Line. "Visiting a comedy club is a popular entertainment option on board."

Every sailing has two to four comics performing as many as five shows a day. There are shows suitable for the family crowd as well as late-night adult performances (for age 18 and up) that are often hilariously racy. A comedy club manager introduces the comedians as waiters snake through the crowd with drinks.

Princess Cruises, soon to have 18 ships (the new Majestic Princess debuts in April), features about 250 comedians on its roster of headline performers. Robbie Printz, a fixture on the Boston comedy scene and a Princess Cruises headliner since 2004, was just named by passengers as the line's Entertainer of the Year – a tribute akin to winning a People's Choice Award at sea.

Comedians on Princess Cruises ships perform in the main theater as well as late-night in a lounge, and all the acts are family friendly, says Phil Kaler, the line's manager of guest entertainers. "What we look for are comics whose acts are contemporary without the need for profanity."

Printz's high-energy observational comedy often focuses on his young family. Example: "My wife is always on and off a diet and I never know her size. She's a 2, she's a 6, she's an 8, she's a 4, she's a 10…" He is booked to do 23 weeks on Princess Cruises ships this year. Like other comedians, he flies in for a few days, and may even perform on two ships in a week. Printz says it's a great gig.

"They pay well and they treat you well," he says. "You get to enjoy lots of great food, all for free. Also, I like the theater atmosphere, with professional sound and lighting. It's great compared to doing a bar room in Boston or Cleveland."

Travel is an added benefit. Printz's favorite ports include those in Alaska as well as Cozumel, Mexico.

In addition to offering regular employment, cruise ships are also a great place to hone your act, says Tommy Drake, a regular on Carnival Cruise Line.

"At the Punchliner Comedy Clubs, comics have the wonderful opportunity of doing multiple sets for the same crowd," Drake says. "By your last performance most of the audience has already seen you before and has made the choice to come back and see you again, so you can get away with more interesting material."

Caroline Picard, who has been performing on Carnival Cruise Line ships for four years, says she likes the fact that cruise ship crowds are some of the most diverse you'll find anywhere.

Comedians are accommodated in cabins with a view and enjoy guest privileges. You may run into your favorite performer at the pool or in the fitness center. Mingling with the crowd and being "famous" on the ship is part of the fun.

"It's great, I love meeting with passengers, taking pictures with them, and getting to know where they are from," Picard says. "The guests love meeting us, and I feel it's part of the experience to give them some of my time."

Some passengers enjoy the onboard comedy performances so much they start following the comics when they do gigs on land too, says Al Ernst, who has performed on Carnival Cruise Line ships for 24 years. He says he's made many friends on cruise ships.

Comedians get frequent positive mention when cruisers talk about their cruise vacations on social media and also get high marks in passenger surveys.

"It's an escape. Who doesn't like to laugh?" says Princess Cruises' Kaler.

The cruise lines focus on finding the right performers. In addition to working with talent agencies and checking out performances in comedy clubs and at festivals, Carnival Cruise Line welcomes tapes from seasoned comedians at www.carnivalentertainment.com.

Jokes about politics are typically verboten at sea as are cheesy cruise ship jokes. Since not all comedy translates universally, stand-up comics may be hired based on the passenger contingent and itinerary – you will find more Australian and New Zealand comics in the Pacific, more U.S. and Canadian comics on ships that cater to a North American crowd. When the audience is international and speaks multiple languages, the cruise lines may go more for visual acts, such as comedy magicians.

On the eight ships of British line P&O Cruises, stand-up comedy is a fundamental part of the entertainment program and takes a British stance.

"What our passengers like is slightly different than the Americans," says Paul Wright, director of entertainment for Carnival UK, which includes P&O Cruises and Cunard. "The Brits like comedy that reminds them of who they are and what they're doing and where they are from. It's very British-centric."

Wright estimates that about half the comedians who are regulars at British comedy clubs on land also do gigs on the P&O Cruises ships – as many as 150 comics on the cruise line's entertainment roster at any one time. The comics may be recognizable to guests from their appearances on British TV and on game shows.

"We expect them to be at the top of their game," Wright says. "We are cherry-picking the best comedians we can find."

On P&O Cruises ships, the comics do headline sets in front of a crowd of about 1,000 in the main theaters as well as late-night sets in bars where they are able to be "a little more cheeky," Wright says.

"The Brits like to enjoy something together. It's that joy of communal laughter," Wright says, adding that seeing comedians also brings bragging rights. "People like to get home from their cruise vacation and tell the gags they've heard the comic tell onboard. It's a bit of social currency."

Australians love a good laugh, and P&O Cruises Australia serves up comedy in partnership with the well-known Brisbane-based Sit Down Comedy Club. Top-flight stand-up comics perform in bars on each of the line's six ships.

For those looking for an immersive comedy experience, P&O Cruises Australia also hosts several Comedy Cruises each year. These themed sailings feature five or six comics doing shows, plus activities such as comedy workshops where guests can learn tricks of the trade and a Comedy Gong Show where passengers of all ages can test their comedic talents.

Comedy is also part of the entertainment lineup on the venerable Cunard line, where international comedians are featured as headliners in the Royal Court Theatre, performing slapstick, observational humor or visual comedy.

In addition to its complimentary line-up, Carnival Cruise Line also hosts superstar performers such as Jay Leno and Jeff Foxworthy as part of its Carnival LIVE concert series in select ports (tickets required).

Top Princess Cruises entertainer Printz says he often hears from guests that comedy has enhanced their cruise experience.

"People say to me after a show, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time," Printz says, adding with a laugh: "And I tell them, well, you need to get out more!"

Royal Caribbean Wants to Give a Team of Thrill Seekers a Trip Around the World
Royal Caribbean is on the lookout for the "World's Most Adventurous Squad." The #AdventureSquad social media contest will challenge explorers and aspiring Instagram stars to act on their wanderlust and prove that their adventurousness is off the charts. In the end, one group of up to four friends will be crowned as the "World's Most Adventurous Squad," and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails to help live up to their newly minted title.

Those looking for a shot at social stardom and global adventure can enter by participating in any one of five adventure-themed Instagram challenges. From highlighting hidden gems in their travels to showcasing their most epic eats, each challenge will give participants the opportunity to share their most impressive photos for a chance to win. Each challenge will run for 72 hours on Royal Caribbean's Instagram account starting on March 29 and through April 12. To take part in the challenge, adventurers simply post their photo to Instagram, tag three friends that will comprise their squad and use the hashtag #AdventureSquad and #Contest.

Upon completion of each challenge, Royal Caribbean will select one winning squad – based on their creativity and spirit of adventure in line with the theme of the day. The winners will then set sail on the adventure of a lifetime onboard Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest and most adventurous ship taking over Royal Caribbean's social media channels as they go. The finalists will go head-to-head to capture and share adrenaline-pumping content both from the ship and exotic destinations, including Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean's private destination; Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. At the end of their adventure, the squad that most embodies the spirit of adventure will be named the "World's Most Adventurous Squad" and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails. In addition, squads' adventures also will be seen when they light up Royal Caribbean's digital billboards in New York City in May.

Australian travel blogger Tyson Mayr (@tysontravel) will act as the contest host, announcing each 48-hour Instagram challenge. Mayr is no stranger to social media contests; he won one himself in 2014 and was paid to travel the globe for a year. Since then, he's made a living as an adventurer and content creator, proving that Internet fame is within reach for social media contest winners.

Those back at home can watch the action unfold by following @RoyalCaribbean and #AdventureSquad on Instagram and Snapchat. For details on how to take part in the Adventure Squad challenge, as well as information on the winning squad, visit www.AdventureSquad.com.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 58.87 + +1.92%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 99.28 + 1.40%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.35 - 4.47%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.02 - 0.16%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag as her registry and ownership?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Two steamship companies, one still in business and mighty powerful, were named P&O. The "P" for both companies stands for "peninsular". What does the "O" stand for in each name? (The "O" is for a different word for each.)

Answer - The company still in business is Peninsular & Oriental. The other line was Peninsular & Occidental, whose principals chose to name their line in honor of the older firm. Peninsular & Occidental operated the FLORIDA, CUBA and SOUTHERN CROSS during the 30's, 40's and 50's in a service from Florida to Cuba
courtesy of James Brice, Washington DC


Cruise News - March 20, 2017

A New Category In Small-Ship Travel Is Born
Newcomer Masala Expeditions isn't wasting any time. Born of its success in small-ship cruising around the island of Cuba, today Masala Expeditions launched six small-ship cruises with ports of call in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. The trips feature a new way to experience a destination: through its people. Masala Expeditions took a note from parent company, insightCuba, and expanded its highly acclaimed people-to-people style of travel beyond Cuba's borders.

People-to-people travel offers an extraordinary way to experience a destination, going beyond tourist activities and interacting with local people and their culture in new and exciting ways. "For 17 years, we've seen how this type of travel moves people," says Masala Expeditions President Tom Popper. "They never look at travel the same way again."

Thanks to a U.S. regulation allowing Americans to visit Cuba, Popper was able to share his enthusiasm for finding people and places most visitors don't see, and bring those intimate and touching experiences to others. "Everything you read about the travel industry points to the fact that people are looking for more personally special, more meaningful travel. This is it!" he says.

Masala Expeditions' six small-ship cruises offer guests an intimate cruise experience along with people-to-people excursions. The small size of the ships fosters a community atmosphere on board and on land. Smaller vessels allow easy access to ports larger cruise ships can't reach, which provides opportunities to create fresh itineraries. Masala Expeditions' largest ship, the M/Y Voyager has just 36 cabins, making the on-board experience crowd-free, intimate, and friendly, affording personal service from the captain and crew. Guests will likely encounter the same people often—a benefit when it comes to making friends while traveling.

Sail the Greek Isles 10-day tour offers guests on the ultimate Greece experience. The journey begins in the heart of this ancient country, Athens. Guests will stroll the Acropolis and the historic Plaka neighborhood, and take a scenic drive through the city with an expert guide who will set the story for the next seven days on board the M/S Galileo. During the seven-day cruise, guests will also call in Poliegos, Folegandros, Santorini, Paros, Mykonos, Syros and more to discover picturesque villages, archeological sightings, and whitewashed streets that make up this stunning country.

Cruise Dubai and Seychelles 11-day tour starts in the stunningly modern city of Dubai where guests can explore the city's massive malls, indoor theme parks, underwater zoo and spend an afternoon on a desert safari, which includes an Arabic-style buffet, camel rides and more. Then guests will catch an early flight to the Seychelles where they'll sail around the tranquil island chain for the next eight days on a luxurious yacht and enjoy bird watching, beach barbecues, snorkeling, swimming, and views of the turquoise blue Indian Ocean.

Safari in Kenya and Cruise Seychelles 10-day tour is a rare opportunity to explore two sides of the African continent. Highlights of the trip include traveling through Kenya's fertile highlands, visiting the Maasai Mara National Reserve and engaging with the Maasai people, exploring the Rift Valley and tours in Kenya's bustling capital of Nairobi. The journey continues in the Seychelles where guests fly to St Anne Island before traveling to Curieuse to see giant tortoises, sail to the white shores of Cousin Island and snorkel and swim among tropical fish and sea turtles. The journey includes high-end, luxury accommodations in Kenya and staterooms on the M/Y Pegasus in the Seychelles.

Sail Spain and Portugal 10-day tour offers guests to see iconic sights such as the Cathedral of Grenada, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alhambra and the Genralife Gardens. The cruise portion sets sail in Malaga and calls in Motril, Granada, Gibraltar, Seville and more before sailing to Portugal. The ship calls in Portimao, where you will go on to visit Silves and Monchique before docking for a day in Lisbon. Other trip highlights include seeing magnificent views over the Straits of Gibraltar and visiting the Cathedral of St. Mary in Seville, the world's largest gothic cathedral.

Cruise Iceland 8-day tour starts with a full day excursion in Iceland's capital city Reykjavik before embarking on the elegant M/Y Callisto to continue exploring the country's natural wonders. Guests will discover a fascinating country with amazing rugged landscapes full of old legacies of Vikings and the Norse. Discover Heimaey Island, the Pompei of the North, Lake Myvatn, the Namarskard a striking geothermal field, and the Godafoss Waterfall. Journey through the quaint fishing village of Husavik, and visit Siglufjordur a fishing town close to the Arctic Circle.

Sail the Dalmatian Coast 14-day tour begins with seven days touring Croatia's major cities before embarking on a cruise and making your way along the Dalmatian Coast. Begin in Zagreb before heading to Opatija, with a stop in Karlovac's old town, dating back to the Ottoman Empire. After seeing the restored medieval city in Dubrovnik, guests will embark on a cruise along the coast and Croatian islands such as Korcula, Hvar and the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.

Princess Cruises Announces Multi-Million Dollar Caribbean Princess Renovation
Caribbean Princess will undergo an extensive two-week drydock in Freeport, Bahamas, March 26-April 6. She will emerge from a multi-million dollar renovation with new offerings appealing to families, including Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and interconnecting staterooms, just in time for the upcoming Europe summer and fall Caribbean seasons. The cruise ship will also be wired for the Ocean Medallion launch that will be available for the 2018 summer Caribbean season.

"With new amenities catering to families, Caribbean Princess not only provides comfort and technology to stay connected but enriching experiences that can be shared together as a family or in our new Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center – all renovated with the goal of helping our guests create lifelong memories," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.

New Caribbean Princess family-friendly features include:

Camp Discovery
For cruisers ages 3-17, Caribbean Princess will now offer a reimagined youth center – Camp Discovery – created in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications, as part of the cruise line's Discovery at Sea program. Catering to specific age groups, there are three center themes where kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them Discover, Play, Create and Huddle, including:

• The Treehouse, ages 3-7 (formerly Pelicans): A bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed center including captivating creatures and hands-on activities for kids to focus on play time, creativity and the world around them.
• The Lodge, ages 8-12 (formerly Shockwaves): Inspired by the great outdoors, this cozy center is filled with sports activities and fun places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge.
• The Beach House, for ages 13-17 (formerly Remix) offers a contemporary surf-themed lounge, featuring a cool place for teens to hang out and socialize.

New youth and teen center programming includes MythBusters science activities with new hands-on challenges, featuring show star, Tory Belleci. In addition, new Camp Discovery destination-themed programs focus on Europe and the Caribbean to immerse young cruisers into the culture, nature and customs of this region.

With family travelers in mind, Caribbean Princess debuts 87 interconnecting staterooms, offering more room and comfort for all family members to enjoy.

A new HD Movies Under the Stars outdoor movie screen will offer a higher resolution picture with double the image quality of previous systems. Guests will enjoy lively concerts and hit blockbuster movies with more sound power, truer color, extreme wide angle viewing and smart contrast/brightness for optimal viewing any time of day.

Everyone can delight in the ultimate sleep at sea in the Princess Luxury Bed, as Caribbean Princess will receive 3,200 new beds and luxurious linens. Developed in collaboration with board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV designer Candice Olson, the bed combines the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design.

In addition, Caribbean Princess offers Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category features select perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with expedited seating and expanded menu options as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation.

The newly renovated Caribbean Princess will start her Europe season with a Transatlantic sailing on April 6th, continuing throughout the summer in the British Isles. Guests can visit iconic Edinburgh to delightful Dublin to the wonders of Paris, and marvel at the natural splendors of Iceland and the remote lands of the North Cape at the top of the world.

She will then to the Panama Canal in October, transiting the new Agua Clara locks, spending the holiday season in the Caribbean.

Additionally, for the first time in four years, Princess Cruises offers Summer Caribbean cruises, including Panama Canal transits in 2018. The Caribbean Princess returns to sail on a full summer season of voyages ranging from seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean to a 20-day Caribbean and Panama Canal Explorer.

The 2018 April to October summer program features 47 departures, roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, including eight unique itineraries visiting 23 destinations in 22 countries. In addition, four ports offer late night stays so guests have more time to explore the evening offerings these destinations have to offer.

MSC Cruises Elevates Dining At Sea With Greater Flexibility
MSC Cruises revealed today new dining concepts that will be available first to guests on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside. Designed to meet the needs of today's cruise guests, the two ships — the first two of a total of 11 new mega-ships due to come into service starting this year, in June and December, respectively — will introduce highly flexible dining options and a choice of dining packages that can be booked at any time prior to embarkation and while on board. With greater flexibility, MSC Cruises guests can dine as they want, when they want, in an even wider range of specialty restaurants and international dining venues.

"At MSC Cruises, we strive to create memorable vacation experiences for our guests while on board our cruise ships, and internationally inspired dining is a key feature of our offering," said Andrea Gangale, MSC Cruises' Head of Product Development and Guest Experience

"We continue to drive innovation in cruising at many levels, which now also includes our onboard dining experience. The new dining concepts cater to the needs of today's cruise guests, who are looking for more flexibility and choices," continued Gangale. "Starting with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside, guests will be able to manage their choices, through cutting-edge onboard technology, and experience an even greater selection of international restaurants which will deliver culinary experiences from around the world."

One of the new dining concepts that MSC Cruises is introducing is Flexi Dining1. This new dining style allows guests to pre-select a time slot for their evening meal, with the ability to change it at any time during their cruise. This way guests can get the most out of their vacation by easily scheduling their dining around their plans for each day.

The Classic2 cruise dining experience will still be available, with a choice of two seatings each evening. This traditional dining style is popular with guests who prefer a dedicated table each night so that they can enjoy personalized service from the same waiter who will know their names, dining preferences and how to accommodate them. This way, they can also socialize with the same guests each evening.

In addition, MSC Yacht Club guests will continue to benefit from free-time dining in the dedicated MSC Yacht Club restaurant, with the option of reserving a table in advance.

Casual dining venues are available for all guests 20 hours-a-day, offering a wide range of freshly prepared dishes. The MSC Cruises buffet – already one of the richest at sea -- has been further enhanced with a wide range of different international dishes suited to any taste. MSC Seaside, in particular, will feature two casual dining venues, one of which will be dedicated to families, serving family-friendly options and featuring child-friendly seatings.

Specialty restaurants are a standout feature on MSC Cruises' ships, offering guests the opportunity to experience quality cuisines from around the world even while at sea. The cruise line's new cruise ships launching in 2017 — MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside — will feature restaurants with innovative 'open kitchens,' following the trend in restaurant design and creating a sensory experience that allows guests to see, smell and hear expert chefs at work. Selected restaurants on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will also feature a Chef's Table, a dining concept designed for those seeking a true gastronomic experience.

Following the success of Kaito Sushi Bar, hailed as "The Best Sushi at Sea,"3 serving fresh fish, sashimi and tempura, MSC Cruises will introduce the new Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant on board MSC Meraviglia to complement the ship's Kaito Sushi Bar. With a modern twist on Asian cuisine, guests can sit at the cooking stations and watch authentic Japanese dishes come to life in front of their eyes. Expert chefs will cook with flare on an open grill — a visual spectacle with flames and sizzling ingredients coming together to form flavorful dishes.

Another new restaurant concept — featured on MSC Meraviglia as well as MSC Seaside – will be an authentic American Steakhouse — Butcher's Cut — celebrating the craft heritage of America blended with the skilful mastery of the butcher. Guests can select their favorite steak from glass-fronted meat aging fridges and then watch the skilled chefs preparing their selections in the open kitchen. The bar will feature a bold wine list with selections from the New World, cocktails inspired by American heritage, and an assortment of craft beers.

A highlight of the dining on MSC Seaside will also be the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi. The three distinct eateries created by the innovative Japanese-American chef will include: an à la carte restaurant serving gourmet Asian creations in a stylish venue with incredible sea views; a Sushi Bar; and an area with Teppanyaki Grills – each area offering authentic pan-Asian dining experiences at sea.

MSC Seaside will also feature the signature seafood restaurant, Ocean Cay. This stylish restaurant will serve American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist. A simple menu with delicious signature dishes will include locally-sourced Stone Crabs, a delicacy in the homeport of Miami, beautiful fresh Sea Bass, flown in from the Mediterranean, and homemade spaghetti alle vongole (with clams).

MSC Cruises is committed to partnering with world-class experts in their fields and the dining experience on the new cruise ships is no exception. The collaboration with world-renowned chef Roy Yamaguchi on MSC Seaside extends beyond the creation of the menus. As part of the partnership, Chef Yamaguchi is personally involved in conceptualizing and designing every element of the new pan-Asian restaurant, including creating the recipes and menus, selecting chinaware, choosing music to create the right ambience, and designing wine pairings to complement the food.

A long-standing partnership with two-star Michelin chef Carlo Cracco will now encompass the development of signature dishes for the main restaurant menus on MSC Meraviglia as well as for the Christmas and New Year menus. Also onboard MSC Meraviglia, a partnership with award-winning French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury will include Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Café, an open chocolate atelier, and Jean-Philippe Crêpes & Gelato, which will serve sweet treats in the ship's Mediterranean-style promenade.

The chef collaborations extend beyond the new ships as part of MSC Cruises' focus on international fine dining. For example, MSC Cruises is collaborating with international Chinese chef, Jereme Leung. Globally recognized for his contemporary interpretation of Chinese cuisine, Chef Leung's modern approach has long caught the attention of top international restaurant critics, and he has brought his contemporary Chinese cuisine to MSC Lirica. In partnership with MSC Cruises, Chef Leung designed new and innovative dining concepts tailored to the tastes of Chinese guests, enhancing existing menus with creative flair and developing new exclusive signature dishes.

To help guests better plan their onboard dining experiences and make the most of their time on board, MSC Cruises is introducing a range of dining packages that can be booked prior to the cruise. For example:

• Guests on board MSC Meraviglia will be able to book a Dinner & Show package where they will enjoy an exclusive table d'hôte menu and then experience the breathtaking Cirque du Soleil at Sea performance in the impressive purpose-built Carousel Lounge.
• A special dining package is available for the Eataly Chef's Table on board MSC Meraviglia, which includes a dedicated chef and sommelier for the night, seven gourmet dishes cooked to perfection and all perfectly matched with seven wines.
• For guests looking to explore a variety of specialty restaurants, special discounted packages can be pre-booked before the sailing.

Royal Caribbean Announces 2018-2019 Caribbean, Alaska and Northeast Itineraries
Royal Caribbean has unveiled its strongest lineup yet of North American itineraries in 2018-19, with the addition of a fourth Oasis Class ship, named Symphony of the Seas, a brand new terminal at PortMiami, and a diverse array of adventure-packed ships sailing from South Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast. Guests of all ages can experience the exotic islands of the Caribbean, breathtaking Alaskan expeditions, and picturesque coastal treasures of Canada and New England.

After spending her inaugural summer season sailing to the historic cities of the Mediterranean, Symphony of the Seas will unite with her three Oasis-Class sisters stateside, arriving to Royal Caribbean's brand new Terminal A at PortMiami. Beginning November 17, she will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, adding Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis to other marquee Oasis-Class ports of call.

Alaskan Expeditions

• Explorer of the Seas will continue to sail to the new frontier with seven-night itineraries departing from Seattle, Washington with ports of call in Victoria, British Columbia, Juneau, Alaska and the Inside Passage, showcasing its jaw-dropping scenery and diverse wildlife.
• Radiance of the Seas will sail seven- and nine-night open-jaw itineraries between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, uncovering the myriad of Alaskan adventures.

South Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico Offer Year-Round Caribbean Adventures

• Allure of the Seas will reposition from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale to PortMiami for the winter season, where she will continue to offer seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
• Harmony of the Seas will continue to sail year-round seven-night Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades Cruise Port in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, switching from Saturday to Sunday departures for the winter.
• Oasis of the Seas will continue year-round seven-night itineraries from Port Canaveral, east of Orlando, Florida to the Caribbean, while Majesty of the Seas will offer three- and four-night getaways to The Bahamas.
• Liberty of the Seas will continue her year-round deployment from the Port of Galveston in Texas, offering seven-night Mexico and Western Caribbean itineraries.
• Enchantment of the Seas will sail three- and four-night getaways to The Bahamas, year-round from PortMiami.

Northeast U.S. and Seasonal Caribbean Escapes

• Quantum-Class Anthem of the Seas will continue year-round itineraries from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey sailing a diverse series of five- to 12-night itineraries to Bermuda and the Caribbean and seven-night itineraries to The Bahamas. For the fall season, Anthem of the Seas will offer nine-night itineraries to Canada and New England.
• The newly revitalized Adventure of the Seas will call the Northeast "home" for the first time since her debut, sailing a variety of seven-night itineraries from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey to The Bahamas and New England & Canada throughout the summer season. In the fall 2018, the ship will feature three open-jaw 10- and 11-night Fall Foliage sailings to Quebec, Canada. Adventure of the Seas will reposition to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale for the winter season, offering six- and eight-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
• Grandeur of the Seas will continue to offer a variety of destinations and experiences for guests sailing from Baltimore, including nine-night itineraries to The Bahamas and 12-night itineraries to the Southern Caribbean in the winter; and nine-night journeys to Canada and New England and five-night getaways to Bermuda's pink sand beaches in the summer.
• Vision of the Seas will join Liberty of the Seas in Galveston, Texas for the winter season offering shorter four- and five-night Western Caribbean getaways.
• Rhapsody of the Seas will sail round-trip seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries out of Tampa, Florida during the winter season.
• Jewel of the Seas will make San Juan, Puerto Rico her homeport for the winter season, sailing seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries.
• Brilliance of the Seas will sail from Tampa in the winter, alternating four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean.
• Serenade of the Seas will homeport in Boston for September and October, offering seven-night itineraries to Canada and New England and seven-night itineraries to Bermuda. She will then reposition to Ft. Lauderdale for longer winter vacations sailing the majestic waters of the Southern and Eastern Caribbean on 10- and 11-night itineraries.
• Navigator of the Seas will sail five- and nine-night Southern and Western Caribbean itineraries from PortMiami throughout the winter season.
• Independence of the Seas will make her way to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida offering four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean throughout the winter. Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 57.76 + 0.96%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.25 + 0.68%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.46 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.10 + 0.00%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Two steamship companies, one still in business and mighty powerful, were named P&O. The "P" for both companies stands for "peninsular". What does the "O" stand for in each name? (The "O" is for a different word for each.)

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the first cruise/passenger ship to have a "magrodome" (the automatic glass or plexiglass covering over the pool area)?

Answer - The Oceanic of Home Lines was the first ship with a Magradome.
courtesy of James Tagliani


Cruise News - March 13, 2017

Celebrity Cruises Reveals Celebrity Edge
Stunning design and breakthrough staterooms set a new standard for modern luxury travel

Perched on the starboard side of the ship and the size of a tennis court, the Magic Carpet is the world’s first cantilevered venue that travels 13 stories.Today, Celebrity Cruises delivers a first look at the transformational Celebrity Edge, whose dramatically expanded staterooms, ship-climbing Magic Carpet platform and stunning suites set a new standard for ship design.

Designed completely in 3-D, and featuring the work of A-list global architects and designers, the 2,918-guest Celebrity Edge aims to make discerning global travelers redefine how they experience the world and how intimate a vacation can be.

“Celebrity Edge is one of the most exciting, innovative and transformational ships I have ever been involved with," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “The new features and refined design will establish a new baseline for ships from here on out."

“Our guests don't want to just skim the world like a magazine – they want to feel a human connection with it," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "Every element of Celebrity Edge is meant to make that connection intense and unforgettable. Our new class of ship will allow guests to experience their journeys with the uniqueness and sophistication that marks the rest of their lives.”

Celebrity made the most of its first new ship class in 10 years, bringing in a design and architectural dream team from around the globe to push the boundaries of ship design and to evolve luxury travel at sea, including internationally renowned interior designer Kelly Hoppen MBE of Kelly Hoppen Interiors and visionary architect Tom Wright of WKK. American designer Nate Berkus serves as Celebrity Edge's design ambassador. Together with other designers whose work will be revealed later, the team arrived at designs that are fresh, exciting, current and comfortable – the essence of Celebrity's Modern Luxury style.

Revolutionary staterooms erase the boundaries between the traditional ship stateroom and its veranda, creating a closer connection to the ocean. The new Edge Stateroom with Infinite Veranda turns guest quarters into a seamless space, from the room's door all the way to the water’s edge. The simple touch of a button gives guests open-air access to the sea, bringing the outside in and the inside out. With the touch of another button, guests can take complete control of their stateroom and personalize everything from lighting, shades, temperature and service – even choosing a setting to tuck them in or gently wake them.

The design adds 23 percent more square footage and 10 percent larger bathrooms than Celebrity’s Solstice Class.

The ultimate sanctuary for world travelers will be the new private utopia called The Retreat, featuring a private pool on The Retreat Sundeck. Also part of this special space is The Retreat Lounge, which brings heightened levels of style and sophistication to Celebrity Edge and boasts around-the-clock personal butler service, and the exclusive Suite Class restaurant Luminae @ The Retreat.

With Celebrity Edge, Celebrity has more than doubled the number of available suites, adding two spectacular new categories. At the top of the line are two new Iconic Suites situated above the ship’s bridge. These near 2,600 sq. ft., two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites feature mind-blowing views thanks to panoramic windows enveloping the dining room, living room and bedrooms. The 700 sq. ft. veranda offers a 270-degree view of the ocean.

The two-level Edge Villas are one of the new Suite Classes aboard Edge. The suite boasts two stories of windows, an atrium stairway with terrace views and a three-foot-deep plunge pool.Another new Suite Class comprises six split-level Edge Villas, which offer stunning views from two stories of windows, private plunge pools and direct walk-out access to The Retreat Sundeck. Hoppen also designed the two two-bedroom, two-bathroom Penthouse Suites with large soaking tubs on the veranda, large dual walk-through showers, and expansive walk-in closets, and the 146 large, outward-facing Sky Suites. All suites and double occupancy Edge Staterooms are fitted with exclusively designed plush king-size cashmere mattresses – an industry first – and offer personal butler services and access to The Retreat.

The Rooftop Garden is one of many spaces aboard Celebrity Edge that will lure guests out to relax and play. Imagined by celebrated architect Tom Wright, the Rooftop Garden, tended daily by a resident horticulturist, is the perfect place for guests to enjoy games and activities through the day. At night, it is home to live music and the outdoor movie-and-meal pairing of "A Taste of Film.”

Cantilevered from the side of the ship, the Magic Carpet makes Celebrity Edge’s distinctive profile recognizable from miles away. The size of a tennis court, this incredible engineering feat scales the 16-deck ship through the day and evening, positioning at four of the ship’s decks, transforming into a new and exciting experience at each one.

At the summit of the ship on Deck 16, the Magic Carpet becomes the ultimate specialty restaurant offering a special “Dinner on the Edge” for 90 guests. Alongside Deck 14, Magic Carpet becomes an open-air expansion of the main pool area. On Deck 5, Magic Carpet extends one of the ship’s specialty restaurants into the most amazing al fresco seating imaginable, and at its lowest position on Deck 2, Magic Carpet is a key component to the Destination Gateway, a luxury embarkation station where guests will be whisked away aboard sleek Edge Launches.SM

Celebrity Edge will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, FL., making her first sailing December 16, 2018.

Significant Milestone In Carnival Horizon's Construction
In a time-honored maritime tradition dating back centuries, a ceremony was held earlier today aboard Carnival Horizon at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, during which a commemorative coin was welded to the ship's mast to mark a significant construction milestone.

a ceremony was held earlier today aboard Carnival Horizon at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, ItalyThe coin ceremony – whose origins can be traced back to the ancient Romans who believed that attaching coins to a ship provided divine protection – signifies the successful completion of Carnival Horizon's exterior outfitting.

Fabrizio Timossi of Carnival's corporate shipbuilding department represented Carnival at the ceremony with Clementina Zecchin of Fincantieri's Marghera yard serving as godmother.

The 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon – a sister ship to the hugely popular Carnival Vista introduced last year – is set to debut in Europe April 2, 2018.

Carnival Horizon will offer many of the innovative indoor and outdoor dining, bar, entertainment and activity options that debuted on Carnival Vista.

Among those is a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre and a massive WaterWorks aqua park with corkscrew slides, a tipping bucket and other attractions promising lots of splash-tastic fun.

A wide range of accommodations will also be offered, including spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

A variety of unique dining and bar concepts and spectacular outdoor spaces found only on Carnival Horizon will also be offered and revealed in the near future.

Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four round-trip departures from this port. Carnival Horizon will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Following its summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple, Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Oceania Cruises Sails Into History As The First Major North American Brand To Travel To Cuba
Oceania Cruises' 1,250-guest Marina sails majestically past El Morro Castle into Havana HarborOceania Cruises made history this morning when its ship, Marina, pulled into Sierra Maestra cruise terminal in Havana, Cuba carrying 1,250 guests.

On board for this historic event was Bob Binder, co-founder and CEO of Oceania Cruises, and Frank Del Rio, Cuban-born founder of Oceania Cruises and CEO of parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. Once docked, Mr. Del Rio addressed international media regarding the inaugural voyage.

All voyages and excursions will fully comply with existing U.S. Federal Regulations and the most recent pronouncements from the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

In Havana, guests will have a selection of expertly crafted shore excursions to choose from, all of which offer an authentic Cuban experience that explores the people, music, art, history and culture of the island in compliance with OFAC regulations. To provide guests with even greater insights into Cuba and its people, guest scholars and expert lecturers on board the ship will deliver compelling presentations about Cuba's past, present and future.

The 14-day sailing departed from Miami on March 7 and will continue on to Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama Colombia, and the Cayman Islands. Oceania Cruises has two more sailings to Cuba scheduled this March and six scheduled for this autumn.

Carnival Corporation Expands Global Fleet Operations Centers
Carnival Corporation announced today that it is expanding the commercial maritime industry's first and most technologically advanced Fleet Operations Centers with the opening of a new facility in Seattle. The company's first Fleet Operations Center is located in Hamburg, Germany, with both centers providing real-time support for its 102-ship fleet, the largest in the cruise industry. A third center will be added to the global network later this year when construction is scheduled to be complete on a facility in Miami at the company's headquarters.

Carnival Corporation Expands Global Fleet Operations CentersThe new Fleet Operations Centers utilize a state-of-the-art tracking and data-analysis platform that enables real-time information sharing between Carnival Corporation ships and specialized onshore teams designed to support fleet operations. The proprietary system significantly improves communication from ship to shore, providing new capabilities for enhancing the safe passage of ships at sea while improving operational efficiencies and supporting overall environmental initiatives at Carnival Corporation.

The advanced system, which initially captures thousands of data points and provides real-time analytics for 28 distinct parameters for navigational safety from each ship, focuses on the following strategic areas to optimize safety, efficiency and overall fleet performance:

• Nautical Operations & Safety – including the capability to see real-time radar visuals, stability conditions, automation, the Safety Management and Command System, and webcams from each ship, along with GPS location, routing, ship conditions and weather data.
• Procedural Optimization & Efficiency – including speeds, navigational data and engine conditions.
• Sustainability – including fuel and energy usage, emissions levels, water and waste management.

"Our teams have done a remarkable job in developing the most sophisticated and capable system in the cruise and commercial maritime industry for taking safety management to a completely new level, overcoming the hurdles faced with ships sailing in the middle of oceans around the world," said Vice Admiral Bill Burke (ret.), chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation. "With our new operations centers running our proprietary technology, both our ship and shoreside teams have greater-than-ever ability to ensure we are operating at safety levels that far exceed industry standards. We can now also access and analyze data that can significantly increase the operational efficiency of our ships, which is another major benefit."

Utilizing cloud-based technology from Microsoft, this new system – dubbed "Neptune" – has been in use at the Carnival Maritime Fleet Operations Center (FOC) in Hamburg, Germany, as announced in October 2015. Carnival Corporation has been piloting the system with its European cruise line brands in Hamburg and Southampton, England. Based on the system's success, the company will continue rolling out the system this year to further increase the monitoring capability of its ships sailing in the U.S. and Caribbean, through its Fleet Operation Centers in Miami and Seattle.

The new Carnival Corporation FOCs will provide an additional layer of support, where the shore-based analytics system will automatically generate alerts to help provide support in addressing any potential safety or weather-related issues across the fleet. Moving forward, the system's ability to process and analyze "big data" in real time will enable Carnival Corporation and its brands to do predictive analysis with the potential to further improve safety and operations.

The implementation of the advanced support system is aligned with the company's Arison Maritime Center, home of its Center for Simulator Maritime Training Academy, or CSMART Academy, the world-class maritime training, professional development and research facility in Almere, located just outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which currently provides some 6,500 deck and technical officers from the company's 10 global brands with extensive annual training programs.

"Our commitment to raising the bar on maritime safety has already generated several major enhancements, including our world-class CSMART Academy training facility where our deck and technical officers receive the industry's most progressive training using state-of-the-art simulators," said Burke. "Now we are taking it to the next level with our new Neptune support system and cutting-edge Fleet Operations Centers that enable us to support safety using real-time data in ways that have never been done in the cruising and commercial maritime industries. Together, our safety training programs and innovative technological capabilities like Neptune add even more strength to our comprehensive approach to safety and operational excellence as the number one priority for Carnival Corporation."

Holland America Line Introduces Rudi's Sel de Mer French Brasserie Pop-Up Restaurant
Holland America Line is honoring its Master Chef and culinary consultant Rudi Sodamin, the creator of Sel de Mer aboard ms Koningsdam, by launching the French brasserie as a pop-up in the Pinnacle Grill and naming it Rudi's Sel de Mer. Six ships in the fleet will feature the pop-up, including ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Oosterdam, ms Westerdam and ms Zuiderdam.

Master Chef and culinary consultant Rudi SodaminSince it launched on Koningsdam as a stand-alone venue, Sel de Mer has garnered both guest and industry acclaim. Rudi's Sel de Mer will build on this success with a version of the menu of classic French dishes including locally sourced seafood served in a setting that will transform the Pinnacle Grill alternative dining venue into an intimate brasserie with custom décor, plates, menus and uniforms reflecting the ambiance of the original Koningsdam restaurant. A specially crafted cocktail and wine menu also will be featured. Rudi's Sel de Mer will be offered once on seven-day cruises and twice on cruises longer than 10 days.

For Rudi's Sel de Mer, Chef Rudi also has created Food Faces art for the exclusive show plates made by Bernardaud, the leading French manufacturer of Limoges porcelain. Each artistic culinary plate portrays a work of art — from food.

"Sel de Mer onboard Koningsdam is extremely popular among our guests and one of the most talked about dining experiences in the industry," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The restaurant showcases our commitment to providing our guests with unrivaled dining options, and launching it as Rudi's Sel de Mer on six more ships as a pop-up will allow more of our guests to see what the buzz is all about and indulge in its phenomenal cuisine."

Rudi's Sel de Mer is set to debut in 2017 on ms Nieuw Amsterdam March 31, ms Oosterdam May 11, ms Eurodam May 24, ms Westerdam June 12, ms Noordam Oct. 2 and ms Zuiderdam Nov. 10.

Rudi's Sel de Mer will serve a classic selection of French seafood dishes with a contemporary twist. After an amuse-bouche of Seared Scallops on Seaweed Salad and Light Saffron Vinaigrette Foam, guests can select appetizers including Steak Tartare, Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, Rudi's Seafood Tower and the classic Fruits de Mer (serves two).

For an entrée, guests can dine on Broiled Maine Lobster, Whole Dover Sole Meunière, Rack of Lamb Persillade, Duck Cassoulet, Steak Frites, Soufflé au Fromage and the popular Salt Crust Baked Branzino. The chefs also will go ashore to the local fish market whenever possible and personally select the catch of the day as a featured dish for the menu.

Side dishes include French fries, cauliflower puree, green beans, wild rice, truffled mashed potatoes and ratatouille.

No meal at Rudi's Sel de Mer would be complete without a delectable dessert. Choices include Crêpes Suzette, Apple Tarte Tatin, Profiteroles with Hot Chocolate Sauce, Artisanal French Cheese Plate and Rudi's famed Souffle – a version of the Salzburg Nockerl.

Rudi's Sel de Mer will be offered for a set price of $49 per person for dinner, and reservations are recommended.

Crystal Adds Famed Broadway Talent To Luxury Marquee
Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Kevin McCollumToday, Crystal introduced "Crystal on Broadway," an exclusive new partnership with multi-Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Kevin McCollum which will bring cast members and creative experts from some of theater's premier shows to Crystal's elegant stages and intimate venues.

McCollum – who boasts a 25-year career in the theater industry and counts In the Heights, Avenue Q, Rent, Motown: The Musical, and Something Rotten! among some of his great successes – will help present performances, lectures and Q&A with some of theater's top artists on select Crystal sailings.

Debuting this summer, 2017, the new line-up will feature guest singers, dancers, choreographers, directors, designers and other artists on designated voyages on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

We are thrilled to announce this partnership with Kevin McCollum and his vast network of talented performers," says Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's chairman, CEO and president. "The artists and experts set for this exclusive new program hail straight from Broadway, offering our guests the superlative caliber of entertainment, enrichment and insider viewpoints they expect aboard a Crystal ship."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 57.21 + 2.64%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.25 + 2.57%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.44 + 4.27%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.10 + 2.69%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the first cruise/passenger ship to have a "magrodome" (the automatic glass or plexiglass covering over the pool area)?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Where exactly was "Luxury Liner Row" - and how was it traditionally defined?

Answer - "Luxury Liner Row" spanned Piers 84 - 97 on Manhattan's west side, from W. 44th-W.57th Streets
courtesy of William Evers, NYC


Cruise News - March 6, 2017

MSC Cruises Launches MSC for Me
Today, at leading travel show ITB Berlin, MSC Cruises unveiled its fleet-wide digital innovation program, MSC for Me. After spending the past three years working with more than eleven of the world's leading digital, tech and behavioral science experts — including Deloitte Digital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Samsung1 — MSC Cruises' holistic program puts guests at the heart of every step of the development, design and construction of its cruise ships. The Company envisions a fleetwide roll-out of the program, to the 11 upcoming next-generation megaships — to be built under MSC Cruises' industry-unprecedented nearly $10 billion, ten-year investment plan — as well as to its 12 existing cruise ships.

MSC for Me will bring to the sea some of the very latest advances in customer-centric technology, in a program designed to meet the needs of guests for years to comeMSC for Me will bring to the sea some of the very latest advances in customer-centric technology, in a program designed to meet the needs of guests for years to come. It will debut on MSC Meraviglia, the cruise line's first next-generation new mega-ship coming into service this June in the Mediterranean, which will be fitted with 16,000 points of connectivity, 700 digital access points, 358 informative and interactive screens, and 2,244 staterooms with RFID/NFC access technology. The program will next be rolled out on MSC Seaside when the ship launches in November.

MSC Cruises' Business Innovation team — supporting the vision and leadership of the Company's Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago — has overseen the integrated development, design and construction of the new ships. There will be three new classes of ships2 built from three new prototypes under the Company's ten-year investment plan. As a result, MSC Cruises will ensure that state-of-the-art technology is fully incorporated into every step of the development process of each prototype, from conception and construction through to the coming into service of each individual ship.

"From day one, innovation has been at the very core of what MSC Cruises stands for," said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. "Each time we bring to the market a new class of ship we develop a brand new prototype, so that we can best address the evolving needs of guests. This distinct approach has led to over 800 percent growth over the first ten years since we entered the cruising business."

"The length and scale of our investment plan is unprecedented in the industry and it means that we aren't just planning ships and experiences relevant to our cruise guests in the next few years, but to those we will welcome on board as far out as 2030 and beyond," continued Vago. "Technology at the service of the guest experience is advancing at a rapid pace and that is why we've already invested about $21 million in the first two ships alone, to develop technology and infrastructure that is capable of meeting the needs of guests for years to come."

The holistic and guest-centric program is focused on connecting guests to their desired vacation experience through cutting-edge technology that is specially engineered to meet their every need, regardless of how they prefer to use technology when traveling.

"This journey started three years ago and today guests are less than 90 days away from experiencing a whole new cruise experience," said Luca Pronzati, chief innovation officer for MSC Cruises. "Together with more than eleven of the world's leading digital, tech and behavioral science experts, among which Deloitte Digital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Samsung, we are bringing some of their latest and most-advanced solutions and technology on board our ships – in fact, this is where most of these will be available for the first time ever on a cruise ship. Like smart, connected cities, but with the added complexity of being at sea, our fleet will demonstrate MSC Cruises' commitment to true innovation today and for years to come, making our ships a holiday destination in their own right."

In response to increasing demand for real-time flexibility, some of the innovative features that are available from MSC for Me are:

• Navigation: digital way finder that provides guests on board with advice, guidance and information on what's on. The technology is similar to smart maps and helps them find their way on the 1000+ foot long ships with a 16 foot precision. It also allows guests to locate their children, as needed.
• Concierge: allows guests to easily book services, restaurants, excursions and more in real time, 24/7.
• Capture: digital immersive discovery through virtual reality to preview excursions and a gallery with interactive screens showing the unique story of a guest's trip, which they can share in real time.
• Organizer: a planning tool for guests to check in with their mobile device, book trips, seats for shows, or the best dinner table, before embarking or when on board.
• TailorMade: digital, personal advisor that will provide tailored recommendations, based on preferences. Intelligent face recognition4 will help staff take care of guests in a highly personalized way. Interactive bracelets will connect guests to the ship's services and will activate geo-located suggestions through 3,050 bluetooth beacons.

Overall, MSC for Me will provide guests with over 130 smart features geared toward a fully optimized vacation experience. These include a dedicated app to help guests tailor their vacations at any point on their journey, whether they are booking their excursions prior to embarkation or a specialty restaurant while relaxing by the top-deck pool. This will improve the overall guest experience, while also freeing up more time to enjoy one's vacation at sea.

MSC for Me will see its initial roll-out across the Company's new builds, with further refinement and enrichment taking place as each ship comes into service. Its key features will then be rolled out to all 12 ships comprised in MSC Cruises' existing fleet.

Norwegian Debuts Popular "Escape Room" Experience
Continuing their history of providing guests with exciting, innovative and cutting edge entertainment, Norwegian Cruise Line has debuted an all-new entertainment experience onboard several of the line’s ships that will surprise and challenge guests: Escape The Big Top. Guests can experience the magic of an escape room with a twist, as they put their critical thinking skills to the test in a physical adventure game to solve challenges and beat the clock.

Norwegian Debuts Popular An onboard carnival takes an unusual turn when an act goes wrong. It’s then up to the guests to solve the clues and escape the spell before the time runs out. This complimentary event, which can run up to one hour, is the ultimate combination of intellect and urgency. Escape the Big Top gives guests of all ages the chance to not only compete against the clock, but their fellow guests as well for added fun.

The new entertainment concept is available several times per cruise onboard the line’s four newest ships, including Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Escape. Guests interested in testing their skills and knowledge can make their reservations through the box office once they are onboard and sign up information can be found in the ship’s Freestyle Daily.

Escape the Big Top is one of many engaging and award-winning entertainment offerings available to guests on Norwegian Cruise Line. Voted Best Entertainment by Cruise Critic, Norwegian features entertainment beyond anything at sea, including Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals, amazing dinner theatre experiences from Cirque Dreams, headline comedians, sing-along fun from Howl At The Moon, live music, over-the-top theme parties, spectacular shows and much more.

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas Headlines 2018-2019 Deployment
Royal Caribbean today breaks ground on the dramatic new PortMiami Terminal A, which will herald the arrival of what will be the world's largest cruise ship and the global cruise line's newest addition, Symphony of the Seas. She and Oasis-class sister ship Allure of the Seas, each with a bold and unexpected lineup of thrilling experiences that have revolutionized the cruise industry, will unite in November 2018 to offer island-hopping adventures through the Caribbean from the Magic City and add Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis to other marquee Oasis-class ports of call. Symphony's inaugural year of Europe and Caribbean itineraries are now available to book; Allure of the Seas' 2018-2019 itineraries will open for sale later in the month.

The 26th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Symphony of the Seas, will be delivered in April 2018 The 26th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Symphony of the Seas, will be delivered in April 2018 and spend her inaugural summer season exploring the awe-inspiring destinations of the Mediterranean calling on ports in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy. She will then arrive to Miami in early November to begin seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries on Saturday, November 17 from the state-of-the-art Terminal A, dubbed the 'Crown of Miami.'

Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the world's largest – and most adventure filled – cruise ship, offering 28 more staterooms than her newest sister ship Harmony of the Seas and encompassing 230,000 gross registered tons. Touting new features and amenities for guests, she also will boast all the groundbreaking innovations and thrilling experiences that have garnered world-wide recognition for Harmony of the Seas. Among the award-winning and acclaimed favorites are the distinct seven-neighborhood concept, imaginative and sophisticated dining, Bionic Bar robot bartenders powered by Makr Shakr, Broadway-caliber entertainment, the iconic waterfront AquaTheater, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, and Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea.

The 'Crown of Miami,' a 170,000-square-foot terminal, scheduled for completion for the arrival of Symphony and Allure, will be the most innovative cruise facility in the U.S. with an expected $500 million in revenue and the addition of 4,000 jobs to Miami-Dade County. It is anticipated that Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. will generate at least 1.8 million passenger moves at PortMiami, representing 30 percent of the port's projected passenger traffic.

Crystal Guests To Explore Land Of Wadi Rum And Bedouin Camps
Guests aboard Crystal Symphony's 2017 President's Cruise will be treated to special receptions and other experiences on board the ultra-luxury ship and ashore, hosted by Crystal's Chairman, CEO and President Edie Rodriguez. The culmination of these exclusive events will begin in coordination with a President's Excursion from Aqaba into the fabled desert wilderness of Wadi Rum and an immersive glimpse into the region's Bedouin tribes during an authentic dinner feast.

Wadi Rum Desert, JordanThe voyage marks Crystal's return to the Holy Land for the first time since 2012, and Arabian Peninsula calling in Limassol, Cyprus; Haifa and Ashdod, Israel; Aqaba, Jordan; and Salalah and Muscat, Oman, and transit of the Mediterranean, Red and Arabian Seas and the Suez Canal. For the 18-day sailing, Rodriguez and her husband, Tom, will join guests for receptions and parties.

Wadi Rum boasts grand wind-blown sand and stone formations and the geographical inspiration of the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. The mountainous region is still home to Bedouin tribes, who will welcome Crystal guests into their culture for an exclusive and festive evening. Elegant entertainment, ornate carpets and candlelight will set a contrasting scene against the harsh desert terrain, where Crystal guests will dine on specially prepared cuisine at the private party.

"This incredible event is something I am greatly looking forward to sharing with our guests, as I know, like me, they relish eye-opening experiences that showcase cultures and historic sites," says Rodriguez. "As this year's President's Cruise will be my first visit to Jordan, it will be my pleasure to discover this fascinating region alongside our guests."

In addition to the exclusive Wadi Rum and Bedouin Crystal Adventure, enlightening experiences ashore include exploration of the lost Rose City of Petra and an overnight stay in Muscat in time for the Sultan's extravagant birthday celebrations. Adventurous archaeological expeditions, rugged rock climbing and Indian Ocean scuba dives in Salalah are balanced by indulgent experiences like Sky Tea at the opulent Burj Al Arab and Sunset at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Cunard Unveils a Fresh Lineup of Special Event Cruises
Cunard, famed for its award-winning Insights enrichment program in which expert and celebrity speakers join voyages to inform and entertain guests, has created fresh programming for 2017 and 2018. From fashion icons to NASA astronauts, and puzzle masters to family historians, esteemed experts will dazzle like-minded passengers on various itineraries and on all three ships – Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.

FESTIVAL OF FLOWERS (June 8, 2017 | V714): Queen Victoria's June 8-22, 2017 voyage features shore excursions to the exquisite gardens and flower markets of the Canary Islands including stops in Tenerife and Lanzarote to glimpse into the world of visionary artist César Manrique. Also included is an overnight stay in the floral paradise of Madeira with an evening dinner at Madeira's Quinta Jardins do Lago botanical garden hotel, plus workshops designed to enhance guests' appreciation of the floral arts.

Cunard Unveils a Fresh Line-Up of Special Event Cruises: From Geneaology to Literature and Fashion, as Part of 2017-2018 Voyage ProgramARTS AND LITERARY TOUR (July 1, 2017 | Q723): Queen Elizabeth will sail the British Isles, July 1-14, 2017, to explore the artistic side of ports including Rotterdam, Newhaven, and Liverpool, in the company of actor Robert Powell and Louise West, Trustee of the Charles Dickens Museum and Former Senior Curator of the Jane Austen House. Book Club get-togethers, Cunard Insights talks and events hosted by Clarendon Fine Art will allow guests to gain a deeper understanding of the life and works of popular authors like Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Beatrix Potter and Victor Hugo.

TRANSATLANTIC FASHION WEEK 2017 (August 31, 2017 | M732B): Fashion icon Iris Apfel, known for her individual style and joyful flair, will be featured on Cunard's second annual Transatlantic Fashion Week, August 31, 2017. A glamorous array of fashion shows, exhibitions, lectures and hosted dinners will be featured on this 2017 Queen Mary 2 voyage including guests Julien Macdonald, Colin McDowell, Gail Sackloff and more. Colin McDowell, Hal Rubenstein, Richard Young, Hilary Alexander and Gail Sackloff have already been announced for the third annual Transatlantic Fashion Week Crossing in September 2018.

WORLD SPACE WEEK (October 6, 2017 | M737): To celebrate the United Nations International World Space Week, Queen Mary 2's October 6, 2017 Crossing will feature top space experts including astronaut, scientist and former shuttle pilot, Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman; Charles Barclay, of the Royal Astronomical Society; Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic; and Ken Taggart, NASA historian.

CELEBRATION OF THE TIMES CROSSWORD (December 8, 2017 | M745): On December 8, 2017, The New York Times crossword puzzle editors will sail on a Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing in celebration of the crossword's 75th anniversary. Daily game sessions, lectures and crossword-themed activities will fill this voyage for problem-solving passengers.

THE NEW YORK TIMES INSIGHTS SERIES: Cunard has partnered with The New York Times to offer engaging speakers from this national news source on six Eastbound Transatlantic Crossings on Queen Mary 2 from May through December in 2017. Topics will include national security, climate change, economics, sports, politics, and much more.

VOYAGE DU VIN (June 1, 2018 | V819): Queen Victoria's first dedicated Voyage du Vin, June 1-8, 2018, will introduce guests to some of Europe's finest wine and port destinations such as Oporto, Lisbon and Vigo. This voyage will also include tastings from Cunard's wine list, which features more than 400 wines from 23 different countries. Passengers will have the opportunity to join the new Cunard Wine Academy and take the Wines and Spirits Education Trust Level 1. The voyage will feature a bespoke series of dinners, tastings and master classes with leading Iberian wine producers and experts.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN (July 1, 2018 | Q820): Guests on Queen Elizabeth's Norwegian Voyage, July 1-13, 2018, will learn professional tips from esteemed experts such as Ross Hoddinott, one of England's leading wildlife and landscape photographers, and take a trip to the Arctic Circle to photograph the stunning phenomenon of the "midnight sun."

A JOURNEY OF GENEALOGY (November 4, 2018 | M842): For the first time ever Cunard has collaborated with Ancestry.com, the largest online family history resource in the world, to offer guests the opportunity to trace their family trees on a Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing. Ancestry experts will be on board this November 4, 2018 sailing to help guests follow their family's journeys, learn about family history, sift through records and discover their ethnic origins with AncestryDNA. One in five immigrants came to the U.S. on a Cunard liner so this collaboration is a perfect fit for passengers who want to trace the steps of their ancestors.

CARTOONISTS AT SEA PRESENTED BY THE NEW YORKER (June – Nov 2018): A unique opportunity to join cartoonists as they host lectures and workshops aboard five select 2018 Eastbound Transatlantic Crossings.

Additional special event cruises include:

Kiel Week (June 10, 2017 | Q721): Queen Elizabeth will call at Kiel, Germany during the middle of Kiel Week, the largest annual sailing event in the world. Featuring both tall ships and modern racers, Kiel Week has also become a popular festival of music, food and fun.

Fourth of July (July 1, 2017 | M724): An exciting Independence Day Celebration aboard Queen Mary 2 with calls to the historic ports of Halifax and Boston.

Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria's "Big Band Ball" (QE: Aug 20-25, 2017 | Q727; QV: Nov 13-18, 2017 | V726): a magnificent 13-piece Big Band Orchestra, for guests who like to dance and sing to the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra.

Queen Elizabeth celebrating QE2's 50th Anniversary (September 8, 2017 | Q729): a special cruise honoring the 50th anniversary of Cunard's best-loved ship, the iconic QE2.

Le Havre 500th Anniversary (September 14, 2017 | M734): Queen Mary 2 will visit Le Havre during its 500th Anniversary as celebrations take place across the city. The voyage will begin in Southampton, then visit Le Havre, before crossing the Atlantic to New York.

Royal Caribbean Finalizes Agreement With The Bahamas To Grow Tourism
Royal Caribbean International, has committed to a multi-year agreement with the island nation of The Bahamas that will help grow tourism to the destination, rapidly increase the cruise line's employment of Bahamian nationals and invest in hospitality training to develop talent in the country.

Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas (left) and Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal CaribbeanAt a signing ceremony attended by Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas and Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International, the cruise line confirmed plans for a significant investment in major enhancements to CocoCay – its private island destination in The Bahamas – which will include the construction of a pier, additional guest features and amenities, and new opportunities for vendors and craftsmen to promote the culture of The Bahamas to visitors.

"Royal Caribbean has been a long-standing partner of the islands of The Bahamas and their plans to significantly increase tourism to our country as well as to develop the talent of our youth and expand employment opportunities for Bahamians is commendable," said Prime Minister Christie.

As part of the agreement, Royal Caribbean plans to work with The Bahamas government to develop a training program to provide those who aspire to a career in hospitality with a unique opportunity to participate in innovative training and development. The cruise line will create a curriculum that will prepare many thousands of students for careers at sea on board one of Royal Caribbean's ships. The classes will be facilitated by dedicated instructors who will provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge to help them develop valuable and marketable hospitality skills. In addition to the classroom experience, students will receive on-site guidance and training from shipboard professionals.

Royal Caribbean has committed to rapidly growing the number of Bahamian nationals employed by the cruise line in the next five years. In addition, they have joint ownership of the Grand Bahamas shipyard in Freeport at which major revitalizations and drydock maintenance of its ships take place.

"Tourism is an important engine of growth for the economy of destinations in the Caribbean and The Bahamas, and we are excited to bring more visitors on our newest and most innovative ships to this popular vacation spot," said Bayley. "Our commitment to The Bahamas is multifold. It is our responsibility to contribute to the country's economic diversity, to its employment base and the training of Bahamian youth as well as the protection of the environment. We are excited about the continued growth of tourism in The Bahamas, and look forward to doing our part to keep that growth and progress moving along in the years to come."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 55.74 - 0.55%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 94.81 - 1.94%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.34 - 1.27%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 49.76 - 1.99%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Where exactly was "Luxury Liner Row" - and how was it traditionally defined?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was first cruise ship fitted with a podded propulsion system, and what year did that ship enter service?

Answer - The first cruise ship to be fitted with a podded proplusion system was Carnival Cruise Lines' Elation (number 491), and was delivered in February 1998 from MasaYards in Helsinki, Finland.
courtesy of Steve Perry, Miami, Florida USA


Cruise News - February 27, 2017

Viking Sky Sets Sail On Maiden Voyage
Viking Ocean Cruises today celebrated the maiden voyage of its third ship, Viking Sky, from Rome's Civitavecchia port to Barcelona. Sister ship to the award-winning Viking Star and Viking Sea, Viking Sky will begin her maiden season sailing itineraries throughout the Western and Eastern Mediterranean before heading north into Viking territory to sail Scandinavian and Baltic itineraries in the summer. Viking Sky will cross the Atlantic this fall and will finish out the year sailing itineraries in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Viking Ocean Cruises celebrates the maiden voyage of its third ship, Viking Sky. The new 930-guest ship will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Scandinavia and the Baltic"As we officially welcome our third ship to the fleet, it is a proud moment for the entire Viking family. We continue to see a positive response from our guests and the industry, which makes us confident in our future growth," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "We started in the cruise business 20 years ago, and our philosophy is still the same – we do not try to be everything to everyone. We are a destination-oriented small ship cruise line, and as we prepare to introduce a fourth ocean ship by the end of 2017, we look forward to introducing even more guests to The Viking Way of exploration."

Classified as a "small ship," the all-veranda, Viking Sky, like her sister ships, has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boasts 465 cabins and accommodates 930 passengers. Viking's fourth ship, Viking Sun, will be delivered in November and will spend her maiden season sailing the company's first-ever World Cruise. Viking Spirit will join the fleet in 2018 and will sail itineraries in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019; the arrival will mark Viking as the largest small ship ocean cruise line. The ocean ships are designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships.

Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests "the thinking person's cruise" as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destination, with more time in port, more overnights and fewer days at sea. Onboard, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. All-veranda ships mean that guests experience every day with a new, expansive vista. With the most al fresco dining at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking's guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences onshore and onboard. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

While every cruise fare includes a guided excursion in each port, Viking's optional excursion program was designed to provide guests with enriching experiences that go beyond the iconic and the expected, for example:

• The Hermitage Behind Closed Doors, St. Petersburg, Russia – Offered on the 15-day Viking Homelands itinerary, guests receive a Privileged Access view of the vaults of one of the world's greatest art collections at the magnificent Hermitage Museum.
• Vistas, Vikings & The Village Woodturner, Torshavn, Faroe Islands – Available on the 15-day In the Wake of the Vikings itinerary, guests can gain insight into daily village life and the rich Viking heritage as they explore the village of Kvivik, site of a 10th-century Viking settlement.
• A Taste of Provence, Toulon, France – Guests on the 17-day Catalonia to Greece itinerary can enjoy a private cooking lesson at a magnificent 19th-century house in the scenic Provençal countryside from Michelin-star rated Master Chef of France, Monsieur Bérard.
• Nazareth & The Sea of Galilee, Haifa, Israel – Offered on the 15-day Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land itinerary, guests can choose to visit some of the most important places in the life of Jesus on this fascinating excursion through Canaan, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum and Tabgha.
• King Crab Safari, Honningsvåg, Norway – Available on the 15-day Into the Midnight Sun itinerary, guests can set off in a deep-sea raft into the pristine waters of Sarnesfjorden to catch their own king crab in this thrilling excursion.
• Evening Concert on the Island of Our Lady of the Rocks, Kotor, Montenegro – On the 10-day Empires of the Mediterranean itinerary, guests can embark on a boat for the island of Gospa od Škrpjela, or Our Lady of the Rocks, to enjoy an exclusive and intimate guitar recital by two eminent Montenegrin musicians, Darko Nikcevic and Srdjan Bultaovic.

In addition, Viking Inclusive Value provides a small ship experience at a big ship value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service—an included value of more than $200 per person, per day for an average cruise.

Carnival Corporation's Exhaust Gas Cleaning Technology Installed on 60 Percent of Fleet
Carnival Corporation & plc today announced it has completed the installation and certification of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) on an industry-leading 60 ships across its brands. Representing a $400 million investment to date, the company is on track to develop and deploy its systems on more than 85 vessels across its global fleet through 2020 – significantly improving the quality of air emissions from its ships and reinforcing its environmental commitment.

Carnival Corporation's Exhaust Gas Cleaning Technology Installed on 60 Percent of FleetFirst announced in 2013, the company broke new ground in engineering a proprietary technology to successfully function in the confined spaces of a cruise ship to reduce sulfur compounds and particulate matter from a ship's engine exhaust at any operating state of a ship – at sea, during maneuvering and in port. The systems enable Carnival Corporation to meet international regulations that place a cap on sulfur content of fuel oil at 0.1 percent. In addition to mitigating costs for low-sulfur fuel, the systems further the company's sustainability goals to continue reducing the intensity of carbon emissions while improving the overall quality of emissions.

"Our Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems represent advanced environmental technology, and underscore our company's strong commitment to responsible sustainability practices," said Mike Kaczmarek, vice president of corporate marine technology for Carnival Corporation. "Due to the success we have had with improving air quality with our systems, we have expanded our commitment to install and deploy this technology from an original 32 vessels to over 85 through the end of 2020. This is part of our ongoing focus on evaluating new technologies, employing new shipbuilding techniques and implementing energy-saving initiatives throughout our fleet to protect the health and vitality of the oceans, seas and communities in which we operate."

Carnival Corporation's Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems, known for their ability to clean – or "scrub" – exhaust from high-sulfur fuel, are currently installed and certified on 17 Carnival Cruise Line vessels, 13 Holland America Line vessels, 10 Princess Cruises vessels, seven Costa Cruises vessels, five AIDA Cruises vessels, four P&O Cruises UK vessels, three Cunard vessels and one P&O Cruises Australia vessel. The installation schedule for the remaining vessels will be forthcoming.

Carnival Corporation pioneered adapting a proven land-based exhaust gas cleaning technology into a marine system that is suitable for the restricted spaces available on cruise ships, leading to a significant development in shipboard environmental technology.

The sulfur reduction program is in line with other proactive steps Carnival Corporation has taken to reduce its carbon footprint, including the adoption of LNG – the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel. In 2015, AIDAsol from the company's AIDA Cruises brand was the first cruise ship in the world to be supplied with power by an LNG Hybrid barge and, last year, the newly delivered AIDAprima became the first cruise ship to routinely use LNG with a dual-fuel powered engine while in port. By 2019, with the introduction of the first of seven fully LNG-powered vessels, Carnival Corporation will be the first cruise company in the world to use LNG to power cruise ships both while they are in port and on the open sea.

"With the International Maritime Organization, the Cruise Lines Industry Association and various government organizations all calling for improved efficiency in clean operations, we see the installation of exhaust cleaning systems and use of clean fuels as steps to future-proof our fleet," said Kaczmarek. "We are proud to be ahead of the curve in meeting the upcoming regulations and guidelines."

Carnival Sensation Undergoes Extensive Renovation
Carnival Sensation has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation and emerged with a variety of popular food and beverage concepts, as well as a new nautical-themed children's play area.

Carnival Sensation Undergoes Extensive RenovationFollowing the two-week-long dry dock, which took place in Freeport, The Bahamas, the 2,052-passenger Carnival Sensation today resumed its year-round schedule of four- and five-day cruises from Miami.

Carnival Sensation is the third Carnival ship to undergo a refurbishment this year with Carnival Dream and Carnival Ecstasy receiving new spaces, as well.

Here's a look at the new spaces now available on Carnival Sensation:

• Guy's Burger Joint: a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef's California roots and love of car culture.

• RedFrog Rum Bar: a poolside watering hole offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival's own private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.

• BlueIguana Cantina: a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.

• Alchemy Bar: a "cocktail pharmacy"-themed lounge with mixologists who "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative monikers like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop.

• Cherry On Top: the "sweetest spot on board" which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more.

• BlueIguana Tequila Bar: a fun and festive outdoor bar offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin' by the pool.

• Camp Ocean: a colorful marine-inspired play area designed for kids ages 2-11 that showcases the wonders of the sea through fun and engaging interiors and more than 200 ocean-themed activities, including arts and crafts, science-oriented programming, and more.

Carnival Sensation's year-round schedule from Miami includes four-day cruises to Cozumel departing Thursdays that visit Nassau and the private Bahamian destinations of Half Moon Cay or Princess Cays or Cozumel and Key West, or five-day voyages departing Mondays and Saturdays calling at Grand Turk, Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Grand Turk and Amber Cove.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2018 Japan Cruise and Cruisetour Program
Princess Cruises, the top North American cruise line in Japan, today announced its longest Japan cruise season yet with an array of voyages from Tokyo and Kobe in 2018 that circumnavigate the country, visiting top-rated cultural ports.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2018 Japan Cruise and Cruisetour ProgramWith Japanese maiden port calls to Ishinomaki, Iwakuni, Niigata, Sakata, Toba and Yokkaichi, along with visits to South Korea, Taiwan, China, Russia, Hong Kong and Vietnam, the voyages are designed to offer opportunities to explore the wonders of UNESCO World Heritage sites and to participate in some of Japan's largest and most celebrated cultural festivals and special events. In addition, cruisetour itineraries will take travelers into the heart of Japanese culture in Kyoto and Tokyo, and include visits to Togendai, Lake Ashi and Mt. Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A total of 63 voyages are open for sale on Japanese-built Diamond Princess, ranging from four to 23 nights, with 38 destinations in seven countries. The 2018 season runs from April through December 2018.

"We are honored to bring guests more departures and visits to top-rated ports in 2018 than ever before," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "Through local cultural entertainment and culinary experiences to our purpose-made ship specific to Japan; our guests are sure to enjoy the most of this storied country at sea with Princess."

2018 Japan program highlights include:

Festivals and Special Events
Three Spring Flowers voyages depart in April, providing guests access to Japan's largest Tulip Fair and some of Japan's top cherry blossom viewing sites, such as Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa.

Guests enjoy the best of summer festival time in Japan as Princess Cruises offers five 8- to 19-day voyages visiting the Aomori Nebuta and Akita Kanto festivals, with late night stays in both cities to allow for even more exploration of these incredible events. The Aomori Nebuta Festival features Nebuta float figures, music and many vibrant dancers. The Akita Kanto features a procession of 200 bamboo poles with lanterns weighing over 100 pounds all carried on the palms, foreheads, shoulders or backs of the celebrants.

Six Fall Foliage voyages depart in early October and November, bringing guests to regions of Japan that showcase the brilliant changing colors of the Japanese maple and Ginkgo trees as summer makes way for fall.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The 2018 Japan season features access to 12 UNESCO World Cruise Heritage Sites, including the historic temples and shrines of Kyoto and Nara, the majestic Mt. Fuji, and the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima.

More Ashore
In 2018 Diamond Princess itineraries will visit 12 ports with late night calls, featuring longer stays on every call to Hakodate for breath-taking views of the city at night – nationally known as one of Japan's top three night views.

Getaway Cruises
For a shorter journey, there are five-night voyages throughout the season sailing roundtrip from Tokyo, visiting Busan, South Korea and Yokkaichi, a new port of call that provides access to the Ise Grand Shrine and is just a stone's throw away from Matsusaka, known for the exquisite Matsusaka Beef.

Japan Cruisetours
To further enhance the cruise line's Japanese vacations, Princess Cruises offers two cruisetour options, available with select cruises, to explore Kyoto and Tokyo. The Highlights of Japan cruisetour includes the main sights in Kyoto and Tokyo, sightseeing at Nijo-jo Castle, the famed Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion) and popular Japanese gardens. After visiting central Tokyo, guests will visit Togendai, Lake Ashi and Mt. Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Temples & Traditions of Japan cruisetour is an extended version of the Highlights of Japan with two additional nights in the UNESCO Creative City of Kanazawa. This area is rich with Japanese culture and tradition where guests can roam Higashi Chaya, an iconic Geisha district, as well as Nomura Samurai House. Guests have the opportunity to participate in a Japanese Washi paper-making demonstration as well as a sushi-making experience.

An experienced tour director and most meals are included on both cruisetour options.

While Diamond Princess features the cruise line's signature innovations, such as the popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat, it also offers many unique features designed to enhance the Japanese cultural experience onboard, including:

• Izumi Japanese Bath – the largest of its kind at sea and modeled after the popular Japanese onsen experience
• Kai Sushi restaurant – boasting made-to-order sushi and a full selection of Japanese sake
• Noodle stations – serving up a rotating selection of ramen, soba and udon noodles
• Tamagoyaki – a traditional Japanese omelet available daily for breakfast
• Unique Japanese entertainment offerings such as "rakugo" storytelling performances and origami classes
• Extensive luxury brand duty-free shopping

In addition, dining room menus offer a wide variety of international cuisine, including Japanese options on all menus, and onboard collateral items and stateroom information are available in both English and Japanese.

Diamond Princess was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan – the first of two Princess ships built in Japan.

For Groups Small or Large, Cruises Become Latest Trend for Fun, Easy Vacations
Vacations are often best when shared. Go on a cruise vacation with a group – whether your friends, extended family, co-workers, alumni association, church or the folks in your bowling league – and everyone can experience quality time together as well as private moments.

Cruise line group departments help make planning a snap whether your group is looking for a getaway for a few days, a week or more, and you don't have to be a huge crowd to qualify for group discounts.

In cruise lingo, a "group" usually is a minimum of 16 passengers in eight staterooms – on Princess Cruises and on the Odyssey-class ships of luxury line Seabourn, a group begins at 10 passengers in five staterooms.

For Groups Small or Large, Cruises Become Latest Trend for Fun, Easy VacationsPerks are part of the group programs too. On Holland America Line, for instance, family reunion and other groups booking eight staterooms or more qualify for bonuses such as a stateroom upgrade, lunch or dinner at the posh Pinnacle Grill and beverage cards.

Groups might expand to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people on the largest ships.

Gary Bertch, president and co-owner of Waterloo, Iowa-based Bertch Cabinets, recently chartered hundreds of cabins on a ship to reward his 800 employees for meeting company revenue goals. Everyone was invited to set sail on Carnival Cruise Line's 2,758-passenger Carnival Victory, and the boss footed the bill for the four-day cruise from Miami to Cozumel.

"It's a good value and most everything is included," says Bertch, who was joined by his wife and co-owner Becky Bertch, employees and their guests on the sailing. "For us it's a celebration of working hard for a year."

On the ship, Bertch Cabinet employees could do their own thing, lounging by the pool, zipping down the Twister water slide, playing Ping-Pong in the sun, enjoying show productions, experiencing both downtime and togetherness.

"We don't do a lot of formal meetings on the ship," says Bertch, who also took employees to sea several years ago during a flush period. "We see this as an effective way to get people focused on the same goals."

Advantages that cruising brings to larger groups are also available to smaller groups, from value and ease of planning to opportunities to customize your experience to the "wow" factor inherent in traveling by ship.

Destinations popular with groups include the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexican Riviera, Alaska and the Mediterranean. Wherever you cruise you only unpack once and your ship takes you to exciting places. Onboard, your fare covers a dizzying array of dining options, fun activities for all ages, entertainment and nightlife.

For celebrations such as anniversaries, weddings, milestone birthdays, family reunions and bachelorette parties, shipboard chefs, photographers, videographers, florists, ice carvers and musicians are available to make your event special, no matter the size or focus of your group. For weddings and vow renewal ceremonies, specialized wedding advisors focus on creating the affair of your dreams.

The sky is the limit when it comes to customization. Ask the ship's bakery to whip up a cake featuring your football team's logo. Make arrangements for your church group to conduct a prayer gathering under the stars. Get everyone in colorful t-shirts and pose for a photo or book musicians to play at your wedding.

A great way to make a family reunion memorable is to hold a private dinner in a specialty restaurant, with shipboard photographers capturing the celebration.

At the ports of call, get co-workers pumped on a customized zip line adventure or treat your multigenerational family group to a private scenic catamaran trip with a stop at a white sand beach. Lasting memories will no doubt ensue: When's the last time the whole gang spent time at the beach?

For groups with kids, cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises Australia and Italy's Costa Cruises, and the five family-friendly ships of British line P&O Cruises, have supervised activity programs for toddlers to teens.

While the kids are occupied, parents can enjoy some time off, relaxing at the pool, indulging at the spa and enjoying such shipboard activities as a cooking demonstration or a wine tasting.

"There's something for everybody," says Justin C. French, regional vice president of sales for Carnival Cruise Line. "Variety and quality is key."

Planning a group cruise is easier than you think. Depending on the cruise line, and where and when you plan to sail, groups are typically able to lock in specific cabins at a set rate for a period of time, giving the group leader opportunity to get the word out.

Group reservations can encompass a variety of accommodations to fit all pocketbooks. If you are doing a family reunion and Aunt Beryl wants a suite, and cousin Joe prefers a value-priced inside stateroom and you prefer a family-sized balcony stateroom, all desires can be handled in one booking. Deposits and payments can even be made directly to the cruise line using a group booking code.

Cruise ships have a distinct advantage over land-based resorts in that they can move. You don't have to worry about being stuck, for instance, at an all-inclusive resort where it rains for a week.

There is also the advantage on ships, as compared to land-based venues, that a wide array of entertainment such as lavish show productions, comedians, live music, movies and parties with DJs are all included in the cruise fare.

For the meetings and incentive market, cruise ships are an increasingly popular venue, especially when it comes to rewarding top-performing employees and salespeople for a job well done, says Melissa Van Dyke, president of the McLean, Virginia-based Incentive Research Foundation. Visiting several destinations on one trip is an attraction as is the diversity of onboard attractions, Van Dyke says.

Other perks include the fact you're in a relaxing environment where all your needs are cared for – the pampering crew even making up your bed twice a day.

For generous boss Bertch, who has also done family reunions on Carnival Cruise Line ships, the opportunity to let your hair down is key.

"We like to have fun," Bertch says. "It's worked out really well."

Here are five tips for putting together the perfect group cruise:

  1. Appoint a group leader. This point person can help get everyone on the same page, coordinating when and where and on what ship your group wants to cruise and serving as the liaison with the experts in the cruise line's group department.
  2. Make reservations well in advance. You will want to lay claim to a block of cabins as soon as possible. Booking a year in advance is preferable, which means now is the time for your group to look at winter 2018.
  3. Work with a travel agent. Experienced travel agents can help take pressure off the group leader, handling logistics and working with the cruise line to make your experience special.
  4. Book a shore experience. As you seek to create memories consider splurging on a group outing, designed by cruise line experts and led by local guides at a port of call.
  5. Plan a special meal. For a memorable celebration, book the steakhouse or one of the ship's other specialty restaurants. The ship's experienced food & beverage team can assist with menus and wine selections.

Cruise Bookings Show Solid Growth in 2017, According to Survey
Today, Travel Leaders Group released its travel survey data specific to the cruise industry, which together with real-time current booking data indicates increased demand among leisure travelers for cruise vacations in 2017. Nearly 87% of travel agent experts who book cruise vacations stated that their 2017 cruise bookings are equal to or higher than the previous year, and more than 84% of those surveyed said their Mediterranean cruise bookings have increased or on are par, year-over-year. Actual booking data corroborates the survey results with year-over-year increases of eight percent or more charted for key cruise segments.

Cruise Bookings Show Solid Growth in 2017, According to SurveyAccording to the survey results, Western Caribbean cruises are the most popular itinerary being booked, followed by Alaska cruises, Eastern Caribbean cruises, European river cruises and Mediterranean cruises, respectively. This survey data is based on responses from 1,062 Travel Leaders Group travel agent experts who book cruise vacations for their clientele.

"Cruise bookings for 2017 have been on the upswing since last year, and a substantial percentage of our travel agents' leisure bookings are in this crucial segment. In fact, our latest data show a 10 percent increase in year-over-year revenue for luxury cruise bookings, and premium cruise bookings are trending higher by eight percent," stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. "Our travel agents are continuously educating themselves – by firsthand experience and in-depth supplier training – to ensure they're matching the right cruise line, ship and itinerary with each individual client's expressed needs. While it requires a significant investment of their time, the benefit is how they have established themselves as trusted resources for creating the ideal getaways for their clients."

Based on Travel Leaders Group's 2017 Travel Trends Survey, these are the top cruise itineraries being booked by its travel agents specializing in cruises:

1 Caribbean – Western
2 Alaska
3 Caribbean – Eastern
4 Europe – River Cruise
5 Europe – Mediterranean
6 Caribbean – Southern
7 Panama Canal
8 (tie) Mexican Riviera
8 (tie) Hawaii
10 Europe – Baltic

"The allure of a Caribbean cruise is undeniable for millions of Americans. However, what's truly impressive is the tremendous growth, over the past 24 months, in Alaska cruises. Consumer demand has been nothing short of phenomenal," said John Lovell, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group. "Within Travel Leaders Network, we have nearly 850 travel agents who are specialists in Alaska cruises alone. Their expertise, coupled with cruise lines keeping up with the increased demand by deploying more ships, has allowed a record number of travelers to experience the breathtaking wonder of 'The Last Frontier.'"

Overall Year-Over-Year Cruise Bookings:
When asked to compare their overall 2017 cruise bookings to the same time one year ago, 86.4% of survey respondents stated bookings were higher than or the same as the year before (44.7% said "Higher" while 41.7% stated "They're even").

Mediterranean Cruise Bookings:
Specifically related to 2017 Mediterranean cruise bookings, 84.5% of those polled indicated their bookings were even or higher than the previous year (39.8% said "Higher" while 44.7% stated "They're even").

Also, Travel Leaders Group travel agents who book Mediterranean cruises were asked to identify the top itineraries their clients are selecting for Mediterranean cruises this year. Those polled could select up to three itineraries, and the top responses included:

1 Barcelona to Rome 25.4%
2 Barcelona Roundtrip 25.1%
3 Rome Roundtrip 21.9%
4 Rome to Barcelona 14.2%
5 Rome to Venice 13.1%

European River Cruises:
When Travel Leaders Group travel agents were asked to compare their overall European river cruise bookings, 78.2% stated they were on par with or higher than the previous year (34.3% said "Higher" while 43.9% stated "They're even").

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 56.05 + 1.17%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 96.69 + 1.55%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.37 + 1.72%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.77 + 6.46%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was first cruise ship fitted with a podded propulsion system, and what year did that ship enter service?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which commercial steamship company handled the passenger and cargo operations for the N/S SAVANNAH, America's only nuclear powered merchant vessel?

Answer - The initial commercial operator, in 1962, of NS Savannah was States Marine Line. In 1963 operation was transferred to American Export Lines, subsequently American Export-Isbrandtsen Lines.
courtesy of Peter Pinner UK


Cruise News - February 20, 2017

Norwegian Announces Order for Next Generation of Ships for Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today announced it has reached an agreement with Fincantieri S.p.A. to construct the next generation of extraordinary ships for its Norwegian Cruise Line brand. Four ships are on order for delivery in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025, with an option for two additional ships to be delivered in 2026 and 2027.

Carnival to Order First-Ever Cruise Ships Built in ChinaThe four 140,000 gross ton ships will each accommodate approximately 3,300 guests. The new class of ships will build upon the highly successful offering of freedom and flexibility found on the brand’s most recent Breakaway-Plus Class ships and feature a host of innovative designs that will further elevate its already award-winning guest experience. A priority of the prototype design is energy efficiency, with the aim of optimizing fuel consumption and reducing the impact on the environment. Details on the ships’ many innovative guest facing and first at sea features will be announced at a later date.

“This new class of ships will continue Norwegian Cruise Line brand’s legacy of introducing meaningful innovation to the cruise industry,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “This order continues to highlight our disciplined newbuild program, extends our growth trajectory well into the future, enhances our already attractive earnings profile, and drives expected long-term returns for our shareholders.”

“For the past 50 years, Norwegian Cruise Line has been focused on offering our guests the very best in cruising,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “It is with great excitement that we look ahead to our next 50 years, which includes this next generation of ships that will offer guests the innovative experiences that have come to define the Norwegian Cruise Line brand.”

“We are extremely excited to collaborate with Norwegian Cruise Line and this partnership allows us to include a new prestigious client in Fincantieri’s portfolio,” said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri S.p.A.

“We are very proud of the innovative design of these ships and recognize the various stakeholders of the export chain who have contributed decisively to achieving this goal. The significant value of the order will provide substantial economic benefits by extending the employment horizon of our shipyards, and we are honored to support the growth of our country’s economy.”

The contract price for each of the four vessels is approximately €800 million per ship. The Company has obtained export credit financing with favorable terms to fund 80 percent of the contract price of each ship delivered through 2025, subject to certain conditions.

Carnival to Order First-Ever Cruise Ships Built in China
Carnival Corporation today announced that its cruise joint venture in China has signed a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) to order the first-ever cruise ships built in China for the Chinese market.

Today's agreement updates the terms of an initial shipbuilding MOA announced in September 2016, further expanding the cooperation between Carnival Corporation and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), China's flagship company in shipbuilding.

Carnival to Order First-Ever Cruise Ships Built in ChinaIn support of China's larger efforts to prioritize cruise industry growth in its five-year economic development plan, the MOA was formalized during an official signing ceremony held today at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Representatives of Carnival Corporation, CSSC and Fincantieri executed the agreement on behalf of Carnival Corporation's cruise joint venture and the shipbuilding joint venture, respectively.

As part of the new MOA, Carnival Corporation's cruise joint venture in China agreed to order two new cruise ships to be built by a China-based shipbuilding joint venture between CSSC, the largest shipbuilder in China, and Italy-based Fincantieri S.p.A. The MOA also gives Carnival Corporation's cruise joint venture the option to order four additional China-built cruise ships.

Based on its global expertise as the world's largest and leading cruise company, Carnival Corporation will operate and manage all cruise ships owned by the cruise joint venture as part of its plans to launch the first multi-ship cruise brand in China. The two new ships will be built with a design tailored for the cruise brand and the specific tastes of Chinese travelers. Under the agreement, Carnival Corporation will provide onsite supervision and support during ship construction. The first of these ships is expected for delivery in 2023.

Carnival Corporation's cruise joint venture – a partnership announced in 2015 with CSSC in which Carnival Corporation holds a minority interest – plans to launch a cruise brand in China using ships that are purchased from Carnival Corporation's existing fleet. Based on today's agreement, the joint venture would then add new China-built cruise ships starting in 2023 to further accelerate growth in the Chinese cruise market and serve increasing demand for cruising from Chinese and Asian travelers.

"We are proud to order the first China-built cruise ships and play a meaningful role in developing cruise shipbuilding capabilities for the first time in China," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "This represents another important milestone in building a sustainable and prosperous cruise industry, and demonstrates our commitment to contributing to China become a leading cruise market as part of its five-year economic development plan."

"Our cruise joint venture's agreement to order the first-ever cruise ships built in China and specifically designed for our cruise brand to serve Chinese guests is a tremendous opportunity to grow interest and demand for cruising as part of China's rapidly expanding tourism market," said Michael Thamm, group CEO, Costa Group and Carnival Asia. "We are very committed to working closely with our partners to further develop the Chinese cruise industry and continue supporting China's efforts to become one of the leading cruise markets in the world, which will remain a key driver for cruise growth across Asia for many years to come."

"Following the five concepts of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, CSSC is working closely with international partners like Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri to build the first cruise ships in China, which will significantly advance the rapid, sustainable and healthy development of the Chinese cruise industry," said Wu Qiang, president of CSSC. "Global economic integration is still an irresistible trend. Our close partnership with Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri, with the aim to build cruises addressing the additional demand from the Chinese and Asian market, will let more people enjoy the benefits of globalization and live a better life."

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: "Looking at the global scenario means trying to widen one's boundaries, laying the foundations to further boost business prospects and access more complex markets. It is not possible to maintain a competitive presence in the medium and long term without such a commitment. We therefore believe that today's agreement is an example of industrial partnership that not only reaffirms our leadership in the cruise industry, but also creates a virtuous system among the two countries."

AIDA Cruises Announces Start of Construction of The First LNG Cruise Ship in The World
On February 21, 2017, a new age dawned for the cruise shipping sector at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg. AIDA President Felix Eichhorn and Meyer Werft Director Bernard Meyer performed the symbolic first steel cutting for the world's first cruise ship that can be run completely on liquid natural gas (LNG).

AIDA Cruises Announces Start of Construction of The First LNG Cruise Ship in The WorldThe Rostock-based cruise company had announced the continuation of the longstanding strategic partnership with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg in the summer of 2015 and issued the order for two new vessels of the next AIDA generation. The vessels, with a size in excess of 180,000 GT (gross tonnage) and around 2,500 cabins each will strengthen the AIDA fleet in the fall of 2018 and spring 2021 respectively.

With the "Green Cruising" concept, AIDA Cruises will be the first cruise shipping company in the world with the capability to operate its new generation of ships using 100% LNG.

"With the start of construction of the first LNG cruise ship in the world, we are not only setting standards for the future in terms of eco-friendliness. Thanks to the further development of the innovative ship design and a large number of successful product innovations of the existing AIDA fleet, we will be opening up totally new worlds of experience to our guests on board our ships in the future. An extraordinary variety of individual vacation possibilities, innovative entertainment and cuisine concepts, inspired by the modern lifestyle of international hotspots – these are just some of the themes with which we are creating new impetus in Germany's vacation market", said Felix Eichhorn on the occasion of the first steel cutting in Papenburg.

"We are very proud to be driving forward this quantum leap in the area of environmental protection together with AIDA Cruises. The successful development of this new and sophisticated ship class for AIDA Cruises shows what a good team spirit, the consistent pursuit of a common goal and committed people can bring about", added Bernard Meyer.

The new generation of ships combines innovative design with state-of-the-art technology for even more comfort on board. The successfully launched features, such as the Brewerie, Theatrium, Beach Club and the Four Elements, have been developed further for the new vessel generation. A new cabin concept will provide AIDA guests with even more room for individuality and personal service in the future, from the Penthouse Suite to the extra-large cabin for families as well as the single cabin. Culinary trends from all over the world served in 15 restaurants and 23 bars will inspire guests to sample something new onboard.

The first 7-day cruises on the 13th member of the AIDA fleet will take guests to the Canaries from December 2018. AIDA Cruises will announce further details of the new generation of ships over the coming months.

Crystal's Alaska Season Offers Adventures For Families
Crystal Serenity's Alaska voyages are offering far more than the comprehensive exploration of the Last Frontier that has drawn luxury travelers to the region for years. For all seven 2017 Alaska cruises aboard the award-winning vessel, luxury travelers can enjoy a host of value propositions and savings that specifically apply to families traveling with children and multiple generations. The voyages sail between Vancouver and Anchorage from June through August on seven-, nine- and 10-day itineraries that call in some of the region's most spectacular destinations.

Crystal Serenity in Glacier BayCrystal's "Kids Sail Free" offer allows kids age 17 and under to sail in a complimentary third berth with two full-fare adults, while the "Crystal Memories" program affords additional perks for larger families traveling together, with one free berth for every 10 full-fare guests and shipboard credit for each guest. Additionally, "Crystal Clear Choices" allow travelers to tailor the savings to best suit their needs, with the option to select shipboard credit, air credit, or cruise fare savings.

"Summer voyages to Alaska have always been a favorite among families with children, who are seeking close-to-home adventure with all the luxuries included in the Crystal Experience," says Crystal Chairman, CEO and President Edie Rodriguez. "These savings opportunities make a family vacation with the best in the world even more appealing for guests who crave the natural wonders that are so abundant in Alaska."

Aboard Crystal Serenity, junior cruisers enjoy numerous entertainment and enrichment options, just as their parents do, with dedicated facilities and programs for younger kids and teens. Fantasia and Waves were redesigned in 2016 and are fully equipped with arts and crafts, dozens of games appropriate for all ages, plush spacious seating areas and flat-screen TVs for movie nights and interactive play on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii, and Xbox One. Junior Activities Directors curate specialized programming throughout summer voyages related to the destinations, bringing the travel experience to life for children.

Ashore, there are dozens of Crystal Adventures ashore that showcase this natural beauty in ways to suit virtually any interest, from virtually every vantage point – by air, land, sea and even glacier. Dogsledding camp visit and trekking through Tongass National Forest, will increase guests' heartrates, while numerous flightseeing opportunities to explore the majestic glaciers of the region and several whale-watching and educational wildlife experiences highlight the delicate magnificence of the remarkable landscapes.

Disney Cruise Line Offers New Destinations in Summer 2018
In summer 2018, Disney Cruise Line will sail on new itineraries and to new ports, including first-time visits to destinations in Italy and Ireland. Disney Cruise Line takes guests on a grand tour of Europe with visits to the Mediterranean, northern Europe, Norway and Iceland. Plus, adventures continue with sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

New sailings from Rome and Barcelona

For the first time, Disney Cruise Line guests can experience the rich culture of Barcelona and inspiring history of Rome as bookend experiences in a single cruise.

Disney Cruise Line Offers New Destinations in Summer 2018In Rome, guests can explore the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican, and sample authentic local cuisine. Barcelona offers beautiful beaches, the market streets of Las Ramblas, the artistic architecture of Gaudi and the famed Sagrada Família church.

On June 16, 2018, the Disney Magic will sail a seven-night cruise from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome). Ports of call include Marseilles and Villefranche, France; and Genoa (Milan), Livorno (Florence, Pisa) and Naples, Italy.

On June 23, 2018, the Disney Magic will sail a seven-night itinerary from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Barcelona. Ports visited on this cruise are Naples, Livorno (Florence, Pisa) and Genoa (Milan), Italy; and Cannes and Marseilles, France.

First-time visits to Milan, Italy

Disney Cruise Line will call on Genoa, Italy for the first time in 2018, as part of three special sailings from Barcelona and Civitavecchia (Rome). The historic port town of Genoa, located on the Italian Riviera, is a gateway to the beautiful metropolis of Milan and the picturesque locale of Portofino. Milan is a global capital of fashion and design, featuring top-name designer stores, boutiques, open-air markets and art galleries.

A 10-night Mediterranean itinerary sailing from Barcelona on July 7, 2018, calls on Genoa, as well as other popular ports in Italy, France and Spain.

First-time visit to Cork, Ireland and first seven-night British Isles

The Disney Magic will call on Cork, Ireland for the first time as part of Disney Cruise Line's first-ever seven-night British Isles cruise, departing on Sept. 2, 2018. Additional ports visited on this sailing include Dublin, Ireland; Greenock, Scotland; and Liverpool, England.

Cork is home to a vibrant culinary scene and a plethora of pubs, shops and cafes. It invites visitors to connect with Ireland's ancient past, with historic sites like Blarney Castle, where visitors can kiss the famed Blarney Stone.

Throughout the summer, the Disney Magic's tour of Europe continues with engagements in the Baltic, Norwegian fjords, British Isles and the Mediterranean.

Return to Alaska

In 2018, the newly re-imagined Disney Wonder will return to Alaska for the summer season, opening up a world of breathtaking natural vistas, magnificent glaciers and awe-inspiring wildlife. A variety of five-, seven- and nine-night itineraries will depart from Vancouver, Canada, with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point and Tracy Arm Fjord.

Southern Caribbean special sailing

The Disney Fantasy will embark on a special 11-night southern Caribbean itinerary departing June 30, 2018, visiting tropical destinations, renowned for beautiful sun-kissed beaches, including Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico and the Disney private island, Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay: More opportunities to explore Disney's exclusive private island

Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas, is consistently a top-rated destination. In 2018, the Disney Dream will sail a series of cruises that include two stops at Castaway Cay so guests can have twice the fun in the sun and enjoy even more of the pristine island paradise.

On June 6, 20, and July 4, the Disney Dream will sail from Port Canaveral, Fla., on four-night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, plus two stops at Castaway Cay.

On June 1, 10, 15, 24, 29, and July 8, the Disney Dream will sail from Port Canaveral, Fla., on five-night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, plus two stops at Castaway Cay.

Princess Cruises Announces Fourth Ship to Debut Medallion Class Ocean Vacations
Princess Cruises announced today that Island Princess will be the fourth cruise ship to feature the Ocean Medallion, debuting May 16, 2018 for the Alaska season. The wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the One Cruise Experience Access Network™ (O·C·E·A·N™), enables a new level of personalization and delivers an enhanced guest experience not previously available in the global vacation industry.

Carnival Corporation Introduces Ocean MedallionUnveiled by Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald during his opening keynote last month at CES 2017, Princess Cruises is the first Carnival Corporation brand to debut this groundbreaking innovation. The Ocean Medallion is the only accessory needed to elevate the guest experience on cruises by offering unparalleled customer service.

Island Princess joins three other cruise ships scheduled to debut Medallion Class Ocean Vacations -- Regal Princess on November 13, 2017, followed by Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess in early 2018, and Island Princess starting on May 16, 2018. The Medallion Class Alaska cruise will set sail on the top-rated Voyage of the Glaciers seven-day itinerary between Vancouver and Anchorage (Whittier), with a trip to the state's best glacial waters including Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"As the leading cruise line in Alaska, it's fitting that our fourth ship to feature Medallion Class Ocean Vacations is Island Princess," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Sailing on our most popular Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary, our guests will enjoy the best Alaska has to offer and enjoy an elevated cruise vacation experience -- connecting each other and the extraordinary people and culture of the 'Great Land' in a more memorable way."

Medallion Class makes cruising more personal, immersive, simple and seamless than previously considered possible. At the heart of this personalized experience is the Ocean Medallion, which enables endless vacation possibilities. The Ocean Medallion has no discernible technology – no on-off switch, no charging, no menu to navigate – and can be worn as a pendant, on a wristband, in a clip or simply placed in a pocket to reveal enhanced services and personalized experiences without guests having to push a button or take any action. The pre-cruise engagement will allow guests to provide preferences that detail their wants, needs and desires so that their onboard experience can be personalized.

Pairing with the Ocean Medallion is the Ocean Compass™ - a digital concierge accessible by all guests using interactive displays throughout the ship, on stateroom TVs, via guests' own smart devices, or through a crew member. For example, guests can find their way to venues around the ship; make reservations at the Lotus Spa, specialty dining restaurants and shore excursions; arrange celebrations; view photographs; learn about the destinations they will visit and activities at each port of call and more. The Ocean Compass will invite guests to experiences based on their individual needs, wants and desires.

Some of the initial service innovations include:

• Ocean Ready™: Expedites embarkation as required information is added to the guest profile at home.

• Stateroom Access: The Ocean Medallion will unlock a guest's stateroom door – replacing the key card.

• HERE & NOW™: Guests can place food and beverage orders and have them delivered to select locations.

• THERE & THEN™: Guests can place select food and beverage orders and have them delivered to where they plan to be at a designated time.

• Ocean Navigate: Accessed through the Ocean Compass, guests can learn the whereabouts of their family as they enjoy activities throughout the ship and be guided seamlessly in finding their way around the ship. Friends and family will also be able to easily communicate with each other through a seamless messaging service.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 55.40 - 1.88%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 95.21 - 1.34%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.33 - 1.69%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.69 - 0.38%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which commercial steamship company handled the passenger and cargo operations for the N/S SAVANNAH, America's only nuclear powered merchant vessel?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When she returned to service after the Falklands War in 1982, Queen Elizabeth 2 was noticeably different in appearance. What were the two changes made to the ship?

Answer - The hull was no longer Federal Grey but Pale grey and the funnel suported the traditional Cunard red with two black stripes, original was white
courtesy of Malcolm Scanlan


Cruise News - February 13, 2017

Carnival Paradise To Sail To Havana, Cuba From Tampa Beginning In June 2017
Following the history-making launch of cruises from the U.S. to Cuba on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand last year, the company's namesake and largest cruise brand -- Carnival Cruise Line -- has now received approval to sail to Cuba. The Cuban capital of Havana will be added to select Carnival Paradise voyages from Tampa beginning in June 2017.

The overnight visits to Havana will be featured on 12 four- and five-day cruises aboard Carnival Paradise departing from the Port of Tampa starting June 29, 2017, providing vacationers with a rare and exciting opportunity to explore this fascinating and previously off-limits destination.

Carnival Paradise To Sail To Havana, Cuba From Tampa Beginning In June 2017 BORDER=Four-day cruises will depart June 29, July 13, August 24, September 7 and 21, and October 5 and 19, 2017 as well as May 3, 2018 and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana. Five-day voyages will depart August 14 and 28, September 25 and October 9, 2017, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana as well as a stop in either Cozumel or Key West.

Carnival Paradise guests will be able to choose from a range of exciting shore excursion experiences that showcase Cuba's vibrant culture and majestic beauty, along with the island's warm and friendly people and centuries-old architectural landmarks.

"Cuba is an island jewel unique from anywhere else in the Caribbean and we are thrilled to have this rare opportunity to take our guests to this fascinating destination," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "The opportunity to visit Havana, combined with the fun, relaxed ambiance and wide variety of amenities and features offered on Carnival Paradise, will make for a truly one-of-a-kind vacation experience," she added.

Aboard Carnival Paradise, guests can enjoy an array of amenities and a full schedule of daytime activities and nighttime entertainment. A variety of dining options include two full-service main dining rooms and expansive poolside choices. The ship also features a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness facility and an exclusive Serenity adults-only retreat. Popular family-friendly programming includes Seuss at Sea in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises and featuring the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups. Four swimming pools and a 115-foot-long water slide are additional features.

The visits to Havana comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Oceania Cruises Reveals Late 2017 Voyages To Cuba
Oceania Cruises announced an additional series of journeys to Cuba in November and December 2017. Ranging in length from six to thirteen days with departures from Miami, these voyages include the line's first calls to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, in addition to Havana. These new itineraries will open for reservations today, 15 February 2017.

Oceania Cruises Reveals Late 2017 Voyages To Cuba"There is tremendous demand from consumers for voyages to Cuba and our inaugural voyages to the island have been a sell-out success," stated Bob Binder, President & CEO of Oceania Cruises. "An Oceania Cruises voyage is the best way to experience all Cuba has to offer with nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, warm and welcoming people, and a burgeoning culinary scene."

All voyages and excursions will fully comply with existing U.S. Federal Regulations and the most recent pronouncements from the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Shipboard Highlights - Sailing to Cuba with Oceania Cruises is a journey into the extraordinary. Aboard the acclaimed Insignia, there are only 684 privileged guests who are catered to by 400 professionally trained staff. Travelers will indulge in the Finest Cuisine at Sea in four open seating gourmet restaurants where they will dine on continental specialties along with the bold and vibrant tastes of Cuba. Each of these voyages will feature a wide array of authentic Cuban dishes that were born from generations-old family recipes. Adding to the enriching nature of the journey, authoritative and engaging experts will deliver lectures on Cuban history, art, and music or perhaps you'll join a group of your fellow travelers in a Cuban staple, the game of Dominos. Throughout the journey, Insignia is a bastion of modernity and old-world comfort. Her 342 staterooms and suites are elegantly appointed and 70% of them have their own private teak veranda, the perfect perch from which to take in stunning Caribbean seascapes.

Itinerary Highlights

• Panoramic Caribbean – 10 days from Miami visiting Havana (two days), Roatan, Santo Tomas, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, and Nassau. Departs 14 November.

• Hemingway's Hideaways – 7 days from Miami visiting Key West, Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. Departs 24 November.

• Timeless Cuba – 7 days from Miami visiting Havana (two days), Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. Departs 1 & 8 December.

• Vibrant Vistas – 6 days from Miami visiting Key West, Havana, Cozumel, and Great Stirrup Cay. Departs 15 December.

• Holidays in the Tropics – 13 days from Miami visiting Key West, Havana (two days), Roatan, Santo Tomas, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, Cozumel (two days), and Nassau. Departs 21 December.

Destination Highlights

Havana, Cuba
The door to Cuba's soul, Havana captivates with its larger-than-life culture, sultry rhythms and weathered beauty. Take a relaxing stroll along the evocative Malecón, the quintessentially Cuban thoroughfare and get lost among the Baroque facades and colonial cobblestone alleys of Old Havana. Visit the grandiose Capitolio Nacional and explore the world-class Cuban art collection at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, which showcases everything from colonial-era paintings to countless masterpieces from Cuba's famed Vanguard Period. Enjoy memorable explorations such as touring one of Havana's venerable old cigar factories for an inside look at the birthplace of these world-famous cigars and the centuries-old process of how they are made.

Cienfuegos, Cuba
Situated in a beautiful bay in the heart of Cuba's fertile agricultural region on the southern coast, Cienfuegos will quietly charm you with its French spirit, tranquil seaside setting and neoclassical architecture. Known as La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South), Cienfuegos was originally founded by French settlers and its city center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Rich in educationally engaging diversions, its historic center features well-preserved 19th-century structures, gorgeous plazas and a layout inspired by the Spanish Enlightenment. Discover the ornate and eclectic Palacio de Valle and take in the stunning views as you explore Punta Gorda, the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset. Step back in time at Teatro Terry with a performance by local artists or discover nearby Trinidad, a remarkably well-preserved colonial town recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and anchored by its impressive Plaza Mayor, an open-air museum of Spanish colonial architecture.

Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
A tropical and energetic cultural epicenter, Santiago de Cuba is the country's second largest city and has played an instrumental role in the evolution of Cuban music, literature and architecture. Wedged between the looming Sierra Maestra mountain range and the aquamarine Caribbean Sea, the city offers a plethora of rich heritage and cultural diversions amidst a dramatic backdrop. Discover the city's fascinating history at Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca and the Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, where Cuban hero José Martí and Emilio Bacardí Moreau of the famed rum dynasty are both buried. Countless musicians have emerged from Santiago de Cuba including Miguel Matamoros of Trío Matamoros and Sindo Garay, and many say the heart of this thriving city lives in its music scene.

Carnival Dream Undergoes Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation
The New Orleans-based Carnival Dream recently completed an extensive makeover that added a variety of exciting food and beverage concepts.

Oceania Cruises Reveals Late 2017 Voyages To CubaFollowing the renovation, which took place in Freeport, The Bahamas, the 130,000-ton ship yesterday resumed its year-round schedule of seven-day Caribbean cruises from the Big Easy.

The new spaces include:

• Guy's Pig & Anchor Barbeque Smokehouse: Designed by Food Network star Guy Fieri, the open-air free-of-charge venue offers a variety of BBQ favorites with a menu that includes Championship Pork Butt, Blue Ribbon Chicken, smoked Andouille sausage and Sliced Smoked Round of Beef, and Fieri's own take on traditional sides. The eatery complements the popular Guy's Burger Joints featured on Carnival Dream and 13 other Carnival ships.
• BlueIguana Cantina: A complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.
• Alchemy Bar: A "cocktail pharmacy"-themed lounge with mixologists dressed in lab coats who "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative monikers like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop.
• Pizzeria del Capitano: Here, guests can enjoy five different varieties of hand-tossed, artisanal-style pizza, including Margherita, quattro formaggio, mushroom, prosciutto and pepperoni – all free of charge 24 hours a day and made in a traditional pizza oven.
• Bonsai Sushi: A full-service sushi restaurant offering delicious Asian-inspired delicacies -- sushi, sashimi, rolls and more, along with popular beers and cocktails from the region -- all enjoyed amidst a striking contemporary décor inspired by the Far East.

These additions complement Carnival Dream's wide variety of onboard innovations, including a massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 304-foot-long water slide, a Serenity adults-only retreat, a luxurious Cloud 9 Spa with a thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite, and Ocean Plaza, a stunning indoor/outdoor live music and entertainment venue. Carnival Dream also offers Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, as well as play spaces for kids in three age groups. A variety of accommodation categories – including nearly 900 balcony cabins and extra-roomy family staterooms that sleep up to five guests – are available, as well.

Carnival Dream operates year-round seven-day cruises from New Orleans offering three distinctly different itineraries – western Caribbean cruises visiting Montego Bay, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman; or Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize and Cozumel; and a Bahamas/Florida route calling at Key West, Freeport and Nassau.

Explore Hidden Glacier Bay Aboard Seabourn during 2017 Cruise Season In Alaska
There are so many natural wonders for guests to behold on a Seabourn cruise to Alaska, but nothing quite like the mysterious and exotic Glacier Bay. As the world's finest ultra-luxury cruise line returns to The Last Frontier starting this May, Seabourn will provide a select number of opportunities for guests to witness the icy beauty of the remote 3.3 million-acre wilderness area with five separate sailings into Glacier Bay aboard Seabourn Sojourn over the 2017 season ahead.

Oceania Cruises Reveals Late 2017 Voyages To CubaA U.S. National Park and Preserve that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Glacier Bay is located along the Inside Passage on the southeastern coast of Alaska. The park encompasses 5,130 square miles of wilderness dotted with vast waterways, dynamic glaciers, emerald rainforests, striking coastlines, deep sheltered fjords, and snow-capped peaks. A vibrant ecosystem made up of terrestrial and marine species, the abundant wildlife includes grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, numerous bird species, sea lions, harbor porpoises, orcas, humpback whales and many more. Glaciers are geared for dramatic displays of ice and iceberg formation, including calving of icebergs into the bay – a wonder of sight, sound, and splash that is not to be missed.

"Whatever the region we're exploring, Seabourn always strives to offer the most enriching experiences to our guests," said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "Taking them to see the wonders of Glacier Bay is a fitting way to return to Alaska for the first time in a decade-and-a-half."

With no roads leading into the park, air and water are the only ways to explore Glacier Bay. As such, a cruise ship is an ideal way to visit one of the world's largest international protected areas.

Seabourn Sojourn's 2017 cruise schedule offering access to Glacier Bay includes:

• 21-Day Kuroshio Route & Alaska: Kobe, Japan to Seattle (May 11-27)

• 11-Day Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn: Vancouver to Seward (Jun 1-12. Additional itineraries include Jun 26-Jul 7; Jul 21-Aug 1; and Aug 15-26)

Whatever the itinerary, Seabourn guests are guaranteed adventure in Alaska with new optional shore excursions and Ventures by Seabourn guided kayak and Zodiac tours led by teams of scientists, scholars and naturalists that bring the awe-inspiring beauty of Alaska and British Columbia alive. The up-close explorations will be featured on Seabourn Sojourn's full series of 11-14 day itineraries sailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage (Seward), Alaska. A glimpse of the Ventures by Seabourn tours in Alaska can be viewed here.

Seabourn's ships circle the globe throughout the year and include more than 150 designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in its itineraries. Through its multi-year partnership with UNESCO, Seabourn offers deeper insight and behind-the-scenes information about current and future World Heritage sites and projects. The line has created special World Heritage Discovery Tours with exclusive and enhanced content developed in cooperation with UNESCO World Heritage site managers and tour experts. Fares for Seabourn optional excursions that include UNESCO World Heritage Sites include a small donation to UNESCO's World Heritage Fund.

Carnival Splendor To Operate 14-Day Alaska Cruise Round-Trip From Long Beach In August 2018
Continuing the expansion of its popular Carnival Journeys longer duration enrichment sailings, Carnival Splendor will offer a 14-day Alaskan adventure round-trip from Long Beach, Calif., featuring awe-inspiring sites such as majestic Hubbard Glacier and a day-long visit to Icy Strait Point, an unspoiled wilderness area offering some of the best whale and bear watching in the state and the world's longest zip-line.

Carnival Splendor To Operate 14-Day Alaska Cruise Round-Trip From Long Beach In August 2018The voyage will depart Long Beach and Aug. 25 and return Sept. 8, 2018.

In addition to a full day at Hubbard Glacier and Icy Strait Point, the 14-day cruise will feature the spectacular destinations of Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Sitka, Alaska, along with a day-long call at Victoria, British Columbia.

In addition to unique cultural opportunities and historic landmarks, each of these destinations offers awe-inspiring natural wonders, including calving glaciers, magnificent fjords and native sea and animal life. A wide variety of shore excursions – from helicopter flightseeing and rainforest canopy tours to hiking, canoeing and kayaking expeditions, and alpine lake snorkeling – will also be available.

The 14-day Carnival Journeys Alaska cruise will also feature unique on-board experiences where guests can enjoy local cuisine, entertainment and cultural opportunities within the various ports of call. Activities focusing topics such as photography, cooking and arts and crafts and a 1980s-themed "Throwback Sea Day" will be offered, as well.

Guests aboard Carnival Splendor can also enjoy the ship's many onboard features and amenities, including a classic American-style steakhouse, the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, and a retractable dome covering the main pool area that also houses the ship's massive Seaside Theatre LED screen. Kids can have an amazing cruise experience with supervised programs catering to three age groups – Camp Ocean (2-11), Circle "C" (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17), along with fun activities that are part of Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

The 14-day Carnival Splendor cruise complements the line's wide-ranging Alaska schedule that includes a two-week-long voyage round-trip from Long Beach aboard Carnival Miracle in September 2017 and 38 seven- and eight-day voyages aboard Carnival Legend in summer and fall 2017-18. Several of the seven-day cruises feature a day cruising Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

"Beauty and the Beast" to Become a Brand-New Stage Spectacular Aboard Disney Cruise Line
A tale as old as time gets ready to take the stage with "Beauty and the Beast," a brand-new musical production inspired by Disney's live-action adaptation of the animated classic. The show will expand upon the most imaginative elements of the highly anticipated live-action and classic films and delight Disney Cruise Line guests aboard the Disney Dream, beginning this November.

Beauty and the Beast to Become a Brand-New Stage Spectacular Aboard Disney Cruise LineAudiences will once again fall in love with the enchanting fairytale as they embark on a sweeping journey to discover the power of transformation through true love and courage. This new production of "Beauty and the Beast" celebrates the romance, adventure and magic of the live-action film, weaving in the charm and nostalgia of the award-winning animated feature.

"Beauty and the Beast" will bring the timeless fable to life like never before, featuring a style of theater that interlaces classic storytelling elements with cutting-edge technology, to create a unique, theatrical experience in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre. An innovative take on the story will transform renowned songs into spectacular, show-stopping numbers, and lavish costumes and puppetry will bring a fresh perspective to beloved characters.

Re-imagining a tale as old as time

Drawing inspiration from the live-action film, the stage musical uses the scenic motif of a music box to guide spectators through the story. Set designer, Jason Sherwood ("Paint Your Wagon," "Frozen, A Musical Spectacular"), worked in concert with video designer, Aaron Rhyne ("Frozen, A Musical Spectacular," Broadway's "Anastasia"), to create a transforming set that will take audiences on a magical journey through the music box, from Belle's provincial French town to the Beast's mysterious castle.

To bring "Beauty and the Beast" to the stage, Disney assembled an all-star creative team, led by director and choreographer Connor Gallagher ("Tangled: The Musical," "Found"). Gallagher collaborated with writer Sara Wordsworth ("Frozen, A Musical Spectacular," Broadway's "In Transit") and a talented collection of Broadway artists to create an imaginative, new approach to this iconic story.

Through a combination of high-definition projections, dynamic scenery and a little bit of Disney magic, this new interpretation of "Beauty and the Beast" will create a visual panorama that reaches beyond the stage and into the audience. Complementing the immersive set, lighting design by four-time Tony Award-nominated, Japhy Weideman, punctuates the powerful emotions of the classic tale.

Orchestrating a song as old as rhyme

"Beauty and the Beast" features songs from the original animated film's award-winning soundtrack by acclaimed composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman. Complementing the score, the show also includes two of the new songs created for the live-action film by Menken and lyricist Tim Rice, "How Does a Moment Last Forever" and "Days in the Sun." Enchanting arrangements and orchestrations by Matt Castle and Frank Galgano ("Into the Woods") will bring a unique musical identity to the production.

Beloved songs like "Belle," "Something There" and "Beauty and the Beast" will receive a musical makeover that reflect the show's stylized approach, while songs like "Gaston" and "Be Our Guest" will leap to the stage as joyful and exuberant production numbers.

One of the most iconic songs in the Disney canon has been completely re-imagined for the stage. "Be Our Guest" is becoming a multi-course French dinner rooted in imagination and fantasy. Rousing choreography and dazzling visual effects will fill the stage during this full-fledged spectacle.

Unveiling the magic of the enchanted objects

Blurring the line between costuming and puppetry, costume designer Sarah Cubbage (Broadway's "Skylight") and puppet designer Lake Simons ("Etiquette Unraveled") joined forces to give life to the enchanted objects of "Beauty and the Beast." Beloved characters like Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth are realized in an unprecedented way, using innovative puppetry and elaborate costumes to bring these characters to life in their true scale.

"Beauty and the Beast" will debut during the Disney Dream voyage departing Nov. 6, 2017, joining an incredible lineup of Broadway-style stage productions aboard the ship, including "The Golden Mickeys" and "Disney's Believe." The Disney Dream sails three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, Fla.

The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures live-action film "Beauty and the Beast" premieres in theaters March 17, on land and at sea aboard Disney Cruise Line ships.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 56.46 + 1.73%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 96.50 + 1.78%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.37 + 1.28%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.87 + 0.74%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When she returned to service after the Falklands War in 1982, Queen Elizabeth 2 was noticeably different in appearance. What were the two changes made to the ship?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag as her registry and ownership?

Answer - The largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag is the Pride of America for NCL.
courtesy of Byron Clayton, Singapore


Cruise News - February 6, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Extends Sailings To Cuba Through December 2017
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it will extend its offering of weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba aboard Norwegian Sky, the largest vessel sailing to Cuba, through December 2017. Together with the five previously announced cruises in May 2017, these 25 additional cruises, which start in June 2017, all feature an overnight stay in Cuba's historical and culturally-rich capital of Havana.

Norwegian Cruise Line Extends Sailings To Cuba Through December 2017"We are thrilled to be the first cruise line able to offer weekly sailings from Miami to Cuba through the fall of 2017, all with overnights in the beautiful city of Havana" said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. "We have seen great demand from our guests for sailings to Cuba and we look forward to providing more opportunities for them to experience this incredibly culture-rich destination on a weekly basis."

Norwegian Sky will sail four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami each Monday, featuring an overnight in the capital of Havana as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island in the Bahamas. The ship will dock right in the heart of Havana, offering guests the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view incredible art and listen to the vibrant local music scene; and visit with Cuba's warm and friendly residents through people-to-people exchanges. Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests aboard Norwegian Sky will have the opportunity to have a farm to table dining experience, explore the Flora and Fauna of Soroa, see Modern Havana in an American Classic Car and much more.

Norwegian Sky's sailings to Cuba will also feature a call to Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island destination in the Bahamas that was recently enhanced to offer guests exciting new ways to enjoy the island, with additional features to be added through summer 2017. Great Stirrup Cay is a private island paradise, with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, watersports galore and lushly landscaped beachside cabanas available for daily rental for those who wish to have a more exclusive island experience.

Along with the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can provide, guests sailing on Norwegian Sky will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages as a part of the ship's all-inclusive program.

Royal Caribbean Opens New Sailings To Cuba
Guests looking to dive deeper into the culture and nightlife of Cuba will now have the opportunity to experience the island at night on Empress of the Seas’ new sailings to Havana. Royal Caribbean International has expanded its Caribbean itineraries sailing from Tampa, to include new 4- and 5-night cruises with day and overnight visits to Havana, along with stops in Key West, FL. and Cozumel, Mexico. The new sailings are available through Nov. 4, 2017, and all sailings are now open for sale.

Royal Caribbean Opens New Sailings To CubaVisiting Cuba with Royal Caribbean means guests can enjoy authentic people-to-people experiences curated to immerse them in the natural beauty and rich culture of the island. Adventures include taking a trip back to the 1950s in a classic American car to tour Havana, with stops at the historic and luxurious Hotel Nacional de Cuba and the Plaza de Revolución, as well as a scenic drive along the island’s famous Malecón waterfront. For guests who want to immerse themselves even more during their time in Cuba, a walking tour offers a close-up experience of the city’s most famous locales, including the old quarter and the Havana Club Museum, a renowned rum producer housed in an 18th-century colonial mansion. For those intrigued by literary greats, a unique excursion will take them to novelist Ernest Hemingway’s favorite haunts, including where he lived, fished, dined and sipped his favorite cocktails.

In the evenings, travelers can experience another side of Cuba – its diverse nightlife. From visiting the famous Tropicana Club to enjoying a performance by the Buena Vista Social Club or witnessing the family friendly ceremonial cannon firing at El Cañonazo, guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of Cuba after dark.

The vibrant Cuban culture extends beyond land to the experience onboard Empress of the Seas. From cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music and dancing in the Boleros Latin lounge, guests will have a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life throughout the entire journey.

Seafood Shack Casual Eateries Added to Seven Carnival Cruise Line Ships
Seafood Shack Casual Eateries Added to Seven Carnival Cruise Line ShipsFollowing the incredible success of the New England-inspired Seafood Shack eatery that debuted aboard Carnival Vista, the concept has been expanded to seven additional ships throughout the fleet.

Located within the ships’ poolside Lido restaurants, the a la carte dining venue offers a variety of fresh-from-the-sea delicacies, including lobster rolls, lobster BLTs, crab cake sliders, fish and chips, and a fried seafood platter with shrimp, clams, calamari, and fish.

There are also buckets of fried buffalo shrimp and fried clams or a combination featuring both items. Diners can also enjoy steamed lobster, snow crab, and peel and eat shrimp, and oysters, all available at market price.

In addition to Carnival Vista, Seafood Shacks are currently featured aboard Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral, Carnival Glory and Carnival Victory from Miami, Carnival Conquest from Fort Lauderdale, and Carnival Freedom, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Valor from Galveston.

Cunard Sponsors 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Cunard today announced its sponsorship of the 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, taking place in New York City February 11-14, 2017. This is the first year Cunard will be part of the show and they will be the only travel company represented at the show. In addition, the 2017 Best in Show winner and owner will be offered an invitation to sail on a Transatlantic Crossing on Cunard's Queen Mary 2.

Cunard Sponsors 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog ShowOwners and dogs who stop by Cunard's booth at Pier 94 will get a glimpse into the luxurious life aboard flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2. Cunard bellmen will be on-hand to greet pups with specially-made doggy treats and canine apparel, and @WallytheWelshCorgi, one of NYC's top Instagram dogs, will make a special appearance to take photos with attendees in front of an oversized backdrop of Queen Mary 2. Wally is attending Westminster Week as a member of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America (PWCCA), an organization that promotes the responsible breeding of Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

"Cunard is proud to sponsor the iconic Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. "Both brands have a long history of supporting our four-legged friends, and we are thrilled to be part of this tradition for dogs and dog lovers."

As the only cruise line to offer dogs and cats passage on the company's famed Transatlantic Crossings, Cunard has a long history of sailing pets -- its pet-friendly policy dates back 176 years to the maiden voyage of the Britannia in 1840. Since then, the company has transported a surprising number of notable pets: Rin-Tin-Tin, Elizabeth Taylor's pampered pooches, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's beloved pup and Pudsey, winner of Britain's Got Talent 2012. It was at the Duke's behest that Cunard originally installed a lamppost beside the kennels on Cunard's former flagship Queen Elizabeth 2.

"We are delighted to be working with Cunard at this year's show," said Gail Miller Bisher, director of communications, The Westminster Kennel Club. "This premiere cruise line offers pet owners an opportunity to travel with their dogs in a comfortable and safe manner and we look forward to a long relationship with them."

Pet travel continues to soar in the United States and due to increased demand, Cunard doubled the size of its kennels on Queen Mary 2 during the flagship's $132 million renovation last year. In addition, the ship expanded the kennel area, adding an owner's lounge and a new pet playground. Guests can enjoy an extended outdoor area for dog walking featuring a lamppost from Liverpool and fire hydrant from New York so dogs from both sides of the pond will feel at home. Overall, Queen Mary 2's enhanced pet service offers a kinder, gentler alternative to pet transportation.

To ensure that pet passengers are as glamorous as their human counterparts, Cunard partnered with the British sportswear brand Barbour in 2016 to offer smart accessories onboard such as jackets, collars and leashes.

Packing for Cruise Vacation: Here's How to Look Sharp While Keeping Luggage Light
Among the things you are thinking about when gearing up for a cruise vacation, the prospect of seeing exciting new places, relaxing and having fun should all be at the top of your list. So why do we all worry so much about what to pack?

With little effort you can put together an appropriate wardrobe and look stylish on your cruise vacation. Easing the cause is that ships are a lot less fussy about formality than they were even a few years ago. Casual is the order of the day with opportunity to dress up at night, but only if you want to.

Packing for Cruise Vacation: Here's How to Look Sharp While Keeping Luggage LightCruise lines all offer plenty of packing advice on their websites and in printed materials. You can also draw strong hints of how your fellow passengers might dress by looking at the photos on cruise line websites and brochures – this is at least a peek at how each line envisions its passengers dressing.

If you have further questions on what to wear, ask a friend who has cruised on the line or check message boards. Pinterest is also a great resource for creative cruise fashion ideas, or check out the many selfies on Instagram.

Once on the ship, you'll find suggested attire for each evening listed in the daily newsletter. The suggestion, which may or may not involve dressing up a little, applies to the main dining room and some specialty restaurants. On many ships you have the option of staying in your shorts or jeans and eating at the buffet and other casual dining outlets.

Choose to dress to the hilt every night if you want – there is no such thing as overdressing. If you are a fashionista and want to stand out in the crowd or the kind of guy who feels more comfortable wearing a jacket to dinner, go for it!

For those who like to put on the Ritz, cruise lines such as Princess Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Seabourn and P&O Cruises UK provide opportunity at designated "formal" or "gala" nights. But don't let the terms scare you, says Fern Mallis, founder of New York Fashion Week.

These days you have a lot of leeway when it comes to "formal" attire. Skip the jeans and sneakers but beyond that anything goes, says Mallis, who recently lectured on the Queen Mary 2 during Cunard's first annual Transatlantic Fashion Week.

While some passengers may wear a tux or ball gown and look like they just stepped out of a James Bond movie, dark suits and cocktail dresses or nice pantsuits are also perfectly acceptable.

"Something sparkly is always a good bet," Mallis says.

When it comes to packing for your cruise you are free to bring as much luggage as you like, especially if you are driving to a nearby homeport to catch your ship. However, guests flying to a port city may want to consider airline baggage fees and weight restrictions.

Fortunately, packing light doesn't mean you can't still be fashionable.

"I recommend for travelers to stay focused, stick with one color and maybe accent with a shawl or some bold jewelry," says Mallis.

The classical nautical look in white or blue is always in-style on cruise ships, she adds.

Weather in your destination and your personal comfort should be a consideration when putting together your cruise wardrobe. You'll want your mittens in Alaska and maybe an extra bathing suit in the Caribbean.

If you forget something or just feel like refreshing your wardrobe, shipboard shops have you covered with fashion selections.

On Princess Cruises ships you can even check out fashions from The Shops of Princess, as modeled by your fellow guests, during The Runway fashion show held in the atrium (if you'd like to be a model yourself, sign up onboard to participate). The fashion show is part of the line's Style at Sea program, offering fashion and beauty tips in partnership with the TLC TV Network.

Cruise ships have even inspired those in the world of high fashion. For her "J Autumn Fashion Show 2016" in October, for instance, model and entrepreneur Jessica Minh Anh set up a catwalk on the sundeck of Germany-based AIDA Cruises' AIDAluna docked in New York, with a breathtaking view of Manhattan as the magnificent backdrop. Her earlier shows included a catwalk on Italy-based Costa Cruises' Costa Luminosa in Sydney Harbour.

When packing for her transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England, to New York, Mallis, who has been at the heart of the fashion industry for more than 30 years, went with loose-fitting, comfortable clothing for daytime including elegant jersey hoodies and shawls. She had kaftans and lots of small, easy-to-pack accessories to spice things up at night.

"When it comes to accessories, more is better," she says. "Most people don't leave the house without lipstick on. I don't leave the house without accessorizing."

A fun trick to look fashionable at the pool is to dress up your bathing suit with a nice cover-up and some costume jewelry. You may even want to purchase local jewelry in the ports of call to reflect the regions where your ship is sailing.

Mallis said her accessory collection includes necklaces from around the world, which she likes to layer. She is also fond of colorful eyeglasses and sunglasses.

To keep clothing items fresh and wrinkle-free in your luggage, you may want to pack with tissue paper or plastic dry-cleaning bags, Mallis says. Rolling clothes such as t-shirts and underwear helps save space in your bag.

Cruise ships provide onboard dry cleaning, pressing and laundry service and many also have self-serve facilities with washers, dryers and irons, making it easy to perk up your clothes.

Nighttime on any ship, no matter the dress code, means a night out on the town. You can do cocktails, have dinner in a beautiful dining room, catch a show and hit the casino and otherwise partake in non-stop action. Or you can have a quiet date night for two, dining on gourmet fare with an ocean view.

For many people, dressing up a little is part of the fun. Get the whole family in party clothes and have one of the shipboard photographers snap a memorable family vacation photo.

Whether you go casual or more glamorous, it's important to keep in mind that the best way to look good on your cruise vacation is to be yourself.

"You can be wearing the chicest, most fashionable outfit, but if it's not you and the outfit is speaking instead of you shining through, it's all wrong," Mallis says. "It's most important to feel comfortable and confident in your clothes."

Cruise Packing Tips

• Consider the weather because while that Hawaiian shirt may be the perfect thing in the Caribbean, not so in Alaska.
• Even in the tropics, bring a sweater or shawl to keep you cozy in the ocean breezes and air-conditioned spaces.
• Sunglasses, a sun hat and sunscreen are a must because the sun shines bright on the ocean.
• Don't forget comfortable shoes or sneakers to wear on shore excursions.
• Go with lightweight fabrics so you can get more items in your luggage and still meet airline weight restrictions.
• Check your cruise line's website before you sail for what-to-wear recommendations, including mention of any dress-up nights.
• Once onboard, always take note of suggested nighttime attire.
• Save space in luggage by skipping items such as pool and beach towels, which are provided shipboard.
• Don't pack items that are prohibited, such as travel irons (check the cruise line's web site for list of prohibited items).
• Always keep essentials including your passport, medicine glasses and cruise documents close at hand in your carry-on.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 55.50 - 0.27%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 94.81 + 0.43%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.34 + 1.30%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.52 - 1.06%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag as her registry and ownership?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the 1972 book and author that contributed significantly to the renewal of interest in ocean liners and cruise ships? Bonus Question: Name the follow-up book published in 1985.

Answer - The original book was "The Only Way to Cross" by John Maxtone-Graham and the follow up book published in 1985 was called "Liners to the Sun". A third book, "Crossing and Cruising" was subsequently published.
courtesy of Keith Brittin


Cruise News - January 30, 2017

Viking Ocean Cruises Takes Delivery Of Third Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises this week announced it took delivery of Viking Sky, the company's third ship. The delivery ceremony took place this morning when the ship was presented at Fincantieri's shipyard in Ancona, Italy. On February 25, Viking Sky will set sail from Rome's port at Civitavecchia and will make her way through the Mediterranean on her maiden voyage. After sailing spring itineraries throughout the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Viking Sky will make her way to officially be christened under Norway's "midnight sun" on June 22 in Tromsø – a nod to Viking's Norwegian heritage. Following the christening, Viking Sky will continue her maiden season sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic before crossing the Atlantic in September on her way to the Americas and the Caribbean.

Viking Ocean Cruises this week announced it took delivery of Viking Sky, the company's third ship. "In the past two years, we have been encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response our first two ocean ships have generated among our guests and travel industry partners. Today we mark an important milestone in welcoming the third ship to our fleet. By the end of 2017 – our 20th year in business – we will also welcome our fourth ship, doubling our fleet in less than a year," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "With our fast-growing fleet and innovative design, we look forward to introducing even more experienced travelers to The Viking Way of destination-focused itineraries in the years to come."

The all-veranda Viking Sky is a sister ship to the award-winning Viking Star and Viking Sea, which launched in 2015 and 2016, respectively, to customer and industry acclaim.

Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 staterooms and accommodate 930 guests. In November 2017, Viking will also welcome Viking Sun, which will spend her maiden season sailing the company's first-ever World Cruise, which spans 141 days, five continents, 35 countries and 66 ports. Viking Spirit will join the fleet in 2018 and will sail itineraries in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019 and will mark Viking as the largest small ship ocean cruise line.

Carnival Ecstasy Emerges From Multi-million-dollar Makeover
The Charleston, S.C.-based Carnival Ecstasy has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation that has added a variety of new dining and beverage innovations.

Carnival Ecstasy Emerges From Multi-million-dollar MakeoverThe features were incorporated during a two-week dry dock that took place from Jan. 10-24, 2017, in Freeport, The Bahamas.

Following the renovation, the ship returned to Charleston yesterday to resume its year-round schedule of four- to 10-day departures from that port.

Here's a look at the exciting options that have been added to Carnival Ecstasy:

• Guy's Burger Joint, a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef's California roots and love of car culture

• BlueIguana Cantina, a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar

• Alchemy Bar, a "cocktail pharmacy"-themed lounge with mixologists who "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative monikers like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop

• Cherry On Top, the "sweetest spot on board" which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

The new spaces complement Carnival Ecstasy's wide range of on-board features, including the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a massive WaterWorks aqua park, a Serenity adults-only retreat, and a luxurious Spa Carnival health and wellness facility.

Carnival Ecstasy's schedule from Charleston encompasses year-round four- to seven-day cruises visiting popular destinations throughout The Bahamas and Caribbean. The ship will also operate a 10-day Carnival Journeys Caribbean voyage round-trip from Charleston Nov. 5-15, 2017.

Royal Caribbean Reports Over 25% Increase In Earnings
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. this week reported US GAAP and adjusted earnings for 2016 of $5.93 and $6.08 per share, respectively, resulting in more than a 25% increase in both US GAAP and adjusted earnings over 2015.

As the company enters its DOUBLE-DOUBLE year, forward bookings are at record levels and earnings are expected to be in the range of $6.90 - $7.10 per share.

Royal Caribbean Reports Over 25% Increase In Earnings"As we enter our DOUBLE-DOUBLE year, we have never been so well positioned," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "This program has done what it set out to do – bookings are at record levels, the preference our brands enjoy has never been stronger, we are on the cusp of investment grade ratings, our dividends are at an all-time high, costs have been well managed, and our guests' satisfaction has never been better. The DOUBLE-DOUBLE program helped reinforce the mindset and discipline across our organization which has gotten us here. For that I thank every one of the men and women whose passion and efforts are driving this performance. While currency and fuel are both significant negatives at the moment, our business continues to thrive."

FOURTH QUARTER RESULTS

US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income for the fourth quarter of 2016 were $261.1 million, or $1.21 per share and $264.7 million, or $1.23 per share, respectively, compared to US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income of $206.8 million, or $0.94 per share, for the same period last year. Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel were down 1.9%, better than guidance, driven by operational efficiencies. Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 5.3%, below guidance due mainly to lower close-in pricing.

FULL YEAR 2016 RESULTS

US GAAP Net Income for the full year 2016 was $1.28 billion or $5.93 per share, compared to $665.8 million, or $3.02 per share in 2015. The 2015 figure includes a non-cash impairment charge related to the Pullmantur brand. Adjusted Net Income for the full year 2016 was $1.31 billion, or $6.08 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $1.07 billion, or $4.83 per share, for the full year 2015. This represents more than a 25% year-over-year increase in earnings per share.

Net Yields for the full year 2016 increased 3.9% on a Constant-Currency basis versus 3.5% in 2015 marking another year of consistent yield improvement.

NCC excluding fuel were up 0.9% on a Constant-Currency basis. The average bunker price net of hedging for full year 2016 was $522 per metric ton and consumption was 1,367,000 metric tons.

During 2016, both the US dollar and the price of fuel in world markets rose. There has historically been an inverse relationship between the foreign exchange impact on our currency exposures and fuel prices, but recently global trends have caused both factors to work against the business. For 2016, the net impact of currency and fuel was a negative $0.08 per share relative to January guidance.

FULL YEAR 2017

Royal Caribbean said that it's booked position for 2017 is better than last year's record high, and at higher rates. Strength from North American consumers is driving exceptionally positive trends for North American and European products. These trends, along with a positive outlook for Australia and a solid booked position in China for the first half of the year, are positioning the company for robust growth in 2017.

"Our global portfolio of products is demonstrating strength across virtually all key markets, positioning us to deliver strong yield growth in 2017," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "Strong topline growth combined with continued focus on cost management will generate another year of record setting results. Even with significant pressure from FX and fuel, we will deliver another stellar year."

Royal Caribbean said that it expects a Net Yield increase in the range of 4.0% to 6.0% on a Constant-Currency basis and 3.3% to 5.3% on an As-Reported basis for the full year.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat on a Constant-Currency basis and flat to (1.0%) As-Reported.

Since our last earnings call, the dollar has continued to strengthen relative to the basket of currency exposures, and fuel prices have increased – negatively impacting 2017 earnings per share by $0.10.

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it currently estimates 2017 Adjusted EPS will be in the range of $6.90 - $7.10 per share.

FIRST QUARTER 2017

Constant-Currency and As-Reported Net Yields are expected to be up 4.5% to 5.0% and approximately 5.0%, respectively, in the first quarter of 2017. Robust demand in Australia for Ovation of the Seas and exceedingly strong demand for Harmony of the Seas in the Caribbean are key contributors to this yield improvement. The deconsolidation of Pullmantur is also a driver of yield growth in the quarter.

Cunard's Queen Victoria Becomes Largest Passenger Ship to Sail the Amazon
Cunard's Queen Victoria Becomes Largest Passenger Ship to Sail the AmazonThis morning, Cunard's luxury cruise ship, Queen Victoria, made her maiden voyage through the 'Meeting of Waters,' and became the largest passenger ship to sail the Amazon, sailing between the dark Rio Negro and the pale Amazon River in Manaus, Brazil.

Manaus marks the sixth out of 32 ports on Queen Victoria's 41,000 nautical mile, 120-night World Voyage.

"Queen Victoria's maiden call in Manaus represents the type of innovation and uniqueness that guests have come to expect from Cunard," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. "Since it pioneered World Cruising in 1922,

Cunard has continued to offer guests itineraries that visit exciting destinations and that offer unique 'firsts' that can only be experienced on Cunard."

Crystal Partners With Canadian Expedition Experts For Second Northwest Passage
Following its first-ever Northwest Passage sailing in 2016, Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity will again traverse the elusive waterway this August. Aboard the vessel will be a comprehensive team of Arctic experts from Canada-based Arctic Kingdom, global leaders in Arctic travel, who will share their knowledge and passion for the region's unique culture, wildlife and geography with guests onboard, as well as lead discovery expeditions ashore.

Polar Bears in the Arctic The 32-day voyage departs Anchorage/Seward, Alaska for New York City on August 15, 2017, and sails through some of the most spectacular, remote areas of the previously unpassable polar region. Crystal Serenity's 2017 Northwest Passage Explorer will mark the final voyage for a classic Crystal ocean ship to sail through the Arctic region. All-inclusive cruise fares start at $21,855 per person and are available for booking by contacting a travel professional or calling 888.799.2437. Crystal's "Crystal Clear Choices" promotional savings offers additional value for bookings made by March 31, 2017.

"The Arctic is like nowhere else on the planet," says Graham Dickson, Arctic Kingdom president and CEO. "As the top land-based operator in the Arctic, we are excited to be providing exceptional opportunities for Crystal Serenity guests to authentically experience the Arctic – unlike ever before."

Local Inuit guides, Northerners, marine biologists, archaeologists, expert divers, conservationists, photographers, and wildlife experts round out Arctic Kingdom's team of expedition leaders and speakers for the epic voyage. Besides the many environmental perspectives of the Arctic, there are several cultural nuances to be explored by Crystal guests during the historic passage with visits to Ulukhaktok, North West Territories; and Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet, Nunavut.

"Partnering with Arctic Kingdom, the leading travel operator in this unique region, further raises the bar on the experience for our guests by offering them expertise from local adventurers," says Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's chairman, CEO and president. "Planning and collaboration with top experts and authorities is a must to ensure the safety of our guests and crew. We continue to work closely with the United States and Canadian Coast Guards, Transport Canada, and a myriad of federal, state, provincial, territorial and local government agencies."

In addition to carefully crafted Crystal Adventures, the ship's captain will safely position the ship to take advantage of impromptu "Unexpected Adventures," supported by Arctic Kingdom, including zodiac outings to view glaciers, kayaking in protected bays, and trekking the tundra with an expert guide, and helicopter flights to view the Arctic landscape from the air, favorable weather conditions permitting. Likewise, expedition teams will be scouting for wildlife including polar bears and whales throughout the voyage. Specialized viewing equipment on board will allow guests to experience incredible viewing from the comfort of the vessel.

Just as it was last year, Crystal Serenity will be accompanied through the Canadian Arctic by an escort vessel, providing enhanced safety and both vessels will use low-Sulphur Marine Gas oil fuel, exceeding environmental regulations. The escort vessel will carry additional safety and environmental protection equipment, as well as personnel specifically trained in its use. In addition, it will serve as a platform for two helicopters for ice reconnaissance and flight seeing, and zodiacs for landings in areas without a port facility. Both vessels will be manned by highly trained crew members and Canadian ice-pilots experienced in all aspects of operating safely in the Canadian Arctic.

Crystal's 2019 Collection Of Globetrotting Voyages Unveiled
With a continued focus on more choices of luxurious ways to travel the world, Crystal is the first cruise line to officially unveil a full collection of worldwide itineraries for 2019, and all are open for booking beginning today. The voyages span the entire water-faring Crystal portfolio to create an unparalleled year of luxury global exploration. By the numbers, eight Crystal ships – two award-winning ocean vessels; five luxury river yachts; and one boutique yacht – will sail a total of 260 voyages to 91 countries, visiting 298 ports, including 13 maiden calls and at least one overnight stay in 71 destinations.

Crystal's 2019 Collection Of Globetrotting Voyages UnveiledIn addition to having nearly two full years to plan their intrepid worldwide vacations, savvy travelers can choose from a vast array of distinctly luxurious travel experiences that literally cover the globe. Among the many highlights are:

Hot trending destinations, including Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, Jerusalem and Jordan with Crystal Serenity, and New Zealand with Crystal Symphony

Remote, less visited sites including the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia and Aitutaki Island, New Zealand with Crystal Symphony and Liverpool's Isle of Man with Crystal Serenity

Maiden calls with Crystal Symphony to Hualien, Taiwan; Ishigaki, Japan; Vlissingen, Netherlands; and Port Arthur, Tasmania; with Crystal Serenity Kangaroo Island, Australia; and Porto Novo, Cape Verde

Expanded Holy Land discovery, with three full days spent in Israel, plus visits to Jordan and Greece aboard Crystal Symphony

Warm weather winter getaways through South America and along the North American Gulf Coast, featuring overnights in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Punta Del Este and Buenos Aires, all aboard Crystal Symphony

Cultural powerhouse itineraries including a Crystal Serenity Northern Europe route that includes three full days in UNESCO-recognized Bordeaux, plus extended exploration in Bruegge, Amsterdam, Bilbao and the Basque region of St. Jean-du-Luz and the Rioja wine region

Springtime discovery of New England and Canada, (historically set for fall, when the foliage is vibrant and the air is crisp) for a fresh perspective on a long beloved and historically rich region aboard Crystal Serenity

More French flair, with Crystal Serenity overnight in Honfleur with an option to travel to Paris and visits to Monet's Garden in Giverny, Deauville, plus an optional journey to Versailles

French Polynesia and New Zealand-focused discoveries, with Crystal Symphony itineraries sailing to the Cook Islands, Easter Island, Tauranga and Rotorua

The world's premier wine regions, featured on a number of specialized itineraries, including the Chianti region, Bordeaux, Rioja and Napier

Exploration of four major European rivers, with Crystal River Cruises the first river cruise line to reveal its 2019 itineraries, ranging from 7-day voyages on Crystal Mozart to 16-day sailings aboard Crystal Mahler. Five elegant vessels sail along the Danube, Rhine, Main and Moselle Rivers on 142 enchanting voyages through Austria, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Exclusive boutique yachting access to the harbors of the West Indies, with Crystal Esprit sailing routes from Marigot Bay, St. Martin/St. Maarten to coveted spots including St. Barts/Gustavia, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and Virgin Gorda.

Virtually every travel interest is represented on Crystal's 2019 collection of voyages. Classically inquisitive guests will relish visits to romantic sites in Florence, Rome, Monaco and Cinque Terre. Night owls will appreciate the party atmosphere in Rio de Janeiro, Ibiza, St Tropez and Buenos Aires. Adventurers will dive in to opportunities to navigate the jungles of Costa Rica and scout the Big Five on Zimbabwe safaris. And foodies will find specialized programming that showcases the local flavors of nearly every region visited.

"The coming years with Crystal will only expand the options available to even the most worldly travelers, as we continue to pioneer new itineraries and visit new locales, as well as cultivate fresh perspectives and ways to explore places long favored by our discerning guests," says Crystal Chairman, CEO and President Edie Rodriguez. "2019 represents the culmination of several upcoming offerings that we're ecstatic to share with guests, along with the future launch of a new vessel that will expand the possibilities for virtually every type of traveler."

Carnival Corporation Announces Strategic Partnership with A+E Networks
Carnival Corporation today announced an expansion of its O·C·E·A·N original content portfolio with the premiere of “Good Spirits” on FYI beginning Thursday, February 16 at 6 p.m. ET and A&E on February 18 at 12 p.m. ET.

Good Spirits” joins pioneering cocktail chef Matthew Biancaniello as he sails the globe on the company’s world leading cruise lines“Good Spirits” joins pioneering cocktail chef Matthew Biancaniello as he sails the globe on the company’s world leading cruise lines in search of extraordinary everyday people, sharing the stories of spirits and collecting farm fresh, native ingredients to inspire one-of-a-kind cocktail creations.

The 30-minute, 10-episode series is the fourth originally produced program in Carnival Corporation’s growing portfolio of inspiring experiential content, following the debut of three TV series that currently air on major broadcast networks on Saturday mornings being viewed by millions each week.

“The first three series that launched in the fall have resonated strongly with viewers and the experiential content strategy is generating the intended results -- which is to showcase that cruising is a great vacation experience while increasing interest and intent to cruise,” said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corporation. “Expanding the diversity of our content while extending into an evening time slot allows us to showcase our diverse portfolio of vacation experiences to an entirely different group of viewers.”

Custom short-form vignettes will showcase how-to drink recipes inspired by each new episode. These vignettes will debut on air and natively across the FYI social and digital platforms throughout the series’ 10-week run. Also coinciding with the series, Carnival Corporation and A+E Networks will launch a sweepstakes offering audiences a chance to win a seven-day cruise for two.

“We are thrilled to be working with Carnival Corporation on this unique partnership,” said Jim Hoffman, EVP of Strategic Initiatives, A+E Networks. “Good Spirits” fits perfectly at A+E Networks where our diverse portfolio of brands reaches a young, upscale audience with premium, original content across multiple platforms.”

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 55.65 + 3.50%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 94.40 + 11.11%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.341 - 1.28%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.03 + 4.41%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the 1972 book and author that contributed significantly to the renewal of interest in ocean liners and cruise ships? Bonus Question: Name the follow-up book published in 1985.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the two 14,000 ton sister ships that entered service for Cunard in 1971 & 1972 and were replaced in 1976 & 1977.

Answer - The ships that entered Cunard's fleet in 1971 and 1972 were the Cunard Adventurer (Sunward II, Triton, Coral) and the Cunard Ambassador. They were replaced in 1976 and 1977 by the Cunard Countess and Cunard Princess.
courtesy of Patrick Race, Berkeley CA.


Cruise News - January 23, 2017

Carnival Corporation to Build Two New Cruise Ships with Fincantieri S.p.A.
Carnival Corporation, the world's largest leisure travel company, today announced that it has signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build two new cruise ships with final contracts expected to be executed in early 2017. The two new ships are designated for the company's Holland America Line and Princess Cruises brands. With the new agreement, Carnival Corporation now has 19 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2017 and 2022.

Holland America Line's new ship will be built at Fincantieri's shipyard in Marghera, Italy, with an expected delivery in 2021, and the ship for Princess Cruises will be built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone, Italy, shipyard with an expected delivery in 2022.

Carnival Corporation has signed an MOA with the shipbuilder Fincantieri to build two new cruise ships for delivery in 2022"We are extremely pleased to formally announce these two new ships and build on the success and popularity of their sister ships already sailing guests around the globe," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "Our goal is to exceed expectations of the 11.5 million guests who sail with us each year, and these new ships will offer more opportunities for our guests to create lifelong vacation memories while generating added excitement around the fast-growing global demand for cruise vacations."

Added Donald: "Using our strategic fleet enhancement plan to introduce new ships is an important part of our measured capacity growth strategy, which includes replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels."

Holland America Line's new 99,500-ton, 2,660-guest ship will be its third "Pinnacle" class vessel, following the design of the line's newest and largest ship, ms Koningsdam, and its sister ship, Nieuw Statendam, scheduled for delivery in November 2018.

Princess Cruises' new 145,000-ton ship will carry 3,660 passengers and will be its sixth "Royal" class vessel, featuring the successful design platform used on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess, the world's first ship designed specifically for the China market and scheduled for delivery in March 2017, as well as its sister ships – the two yet-to-be-named vessels also under construction by Fincantieri scheduled for delivery in 2019 and 2020.

"This is an extraordinary moment for the cruise sector and it is particularly rewarding for us to be able to seize all the opportunities coming from the industry growth, also thanks to our deep-rooted partnership with Carnival Corporation," said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "These vessels will be based on the successful platforms developed for Carnival. On the back of these successful platforms, our Group today aims to further increase its order book, already at record levels, while ensuring profitability in the cruise segment."

Holland America Line's ship will combine classic hallmarks of the brand while featuring several of the innovative venues that were introduced on ms Koningsdam, as well as new concepts that will debut on Nieuw Statendam and additional elements unique to the new vessel.

The new Princess Cruises ship will feature Ocean Medallion Class™– a more personal, immersive, simple and seamless cruise experience made possible by Carnival Corporation's recently announced Ocean Medallion™, a wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform enabling enhanced services and personalized experiences for guests. The ship will also feature the other signature elements that have become synonymous with the Princess guest experience such as a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; its signature Movies Under the Stars with the largest outdoor screen at sea; and 81 percent of all staterooms with balconies.

Each of Carnival Corporation's new ships will be specifically designed and developed for each brand and the guests and markets it will serve, supporting the corporation's overall goal of providing extraordinary vacation experiences at an exceptional value for its guests around the world. Specific features and amenities for the ships, along with deployment details, will be revealed in the coming months.

Celebrity Cruises Taps Designer Nate Berkus to Introduce Celebrity Edge to the World
To kick off the New Year in style, Celebrity Cruises is announcing an exclusive partnership with design icon Nate Berkus, naming him Design Ambassador for the brand's newest class of ships – Edge Class.

Celebrity Cruises Taps Designer Nate Berkus to Introduce Celebrity Edge to the WorldAs Design Ambassador, Berkus will bring his distinctive personality to the launch of Celebrity Edge, hosting a series of Edge Class reveal events alongside Celebrity's President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Richard D. Fain. Designed, and soon to be revealed to the world in 3D, Edge Class will transform the future of cruising. Together, Berkus and Celebrity will share this groundbreaking story in March 2017.

A pioneer in the industry, Berkus established his award-winning interior design firm at the age of 24, showcasing an approachable and elevated design philosophy that has transformed countless interiors around the world for more than 20 years. Over and above the interiors he designs, Berkus' signature style has been carried through to his highly popular product lines which include a home and baby collection sold at Target, a fabric line at Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores, as well as being Artistic Advisor for LG STUDIO. As such, Berkus was a perfect fit to showcase Celebrity's cutting-edge innovation and breathtaking design on its newest class of ships.

"Nate Berkus embodies modern luxury, and evokes a global aesthetic with his forward-thinking style, which is admired by the design world and the world at large," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "When we first sat down with Nate, we knew this was going to be an incredible partnership. Design is in our DNA, as well as Nate's, plus we share a love for the same things: modern luxury, one-of-a-kind design, and global travel. We couldn't think of a better person to collaborate with on the truly transformational Edge Class."

"When Celebrity approached me about a potential partnership, I couldn't wait to get onboard – pun intended. Their commitment to delivering the very best in terms of luxury design, but also their attention to the overall experience, the level of detail and care, really stood out for me," said Berkus. "I love the idea that we can travel beautifully, and that every moment of the experience – from start to finish – is exceptional. That's what the Edge Class is all about."

Edge Class is Celebrity's first new ship class in nearly a decade, succeeding the brand's revolutionary Solstice Class. The company expects delivery of Celebrity Edge in Fall 2018. Celebrity Beyond is scheduled for delivery in Spring 2020, and the third and fourth Edge Class ships in Fall 2021 and Fall 2022, respectively.

Carnival Horizon To Debut With A Series Of European Voyages In April 2018
For the inaugural season of its newest ship, Carnival Horizon, debuting in April 2018, Carnival Cruise Line has assembled a wide array of exciting and diverse itineraries featuring breathtaking destinations throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Carnival Horizon To Debut With A Series Of European Voyages In April 2018Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, Carnival Horizon will offer many of the hugely popular indoor and outdoor dining, bar, entertainment and activity options that debuted on Carnival Vista, currently the line's newest ship.

Among those is a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre and a massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a water tube slide called Kaleid-o-slide. A wide range of accommodations will also be offered, including spa cabins offering exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

A variety of unique dining and bar concepts and spectacular outdoor spaces found only on Carnival Horizon will be offered and revealed in the near future.

"Carnival Vista delivered the next generation of ship for our brand with new, never-before-seen features at sea. From our amazing SkyRide and the WaterWorks aqua park to first IMAX Theatre on a cruise ship, Carnival Vista has offered our guests a brand new view of fun. With Carnival Horizon, we continue to expand those themes to provide guests of all ages with the ultimate fun vacation with Carnival!" said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Port-Intensive European Cruises Round-Trip from Barcelona
Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean voyage operating round-trip from Barcelona and calling at Livorno, Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples (Capri and Pompeii), Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Corfu, Greece; Messina (Sicily), Italy; Valletta, Malta; and Cagliari (Sardinia), Italy – the first of four round-trip departures from this Spanish port. Carnival Horizon will also operate two seven-day cruises departing April 15 and 22, 2018, and featuring Cagliari (Sardinia), Naples (Capri and Pompeii), Rome (Civitavecchia), Livorno, and Marseilles, and a 10-day voyage departing April 29, 2018, with stops at Livorno, Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples (Capri and Pompeii), Dubrovnik, Corfu and Messina (Sicily).

14-Day Transatlantic Crossing from Barcelona to New York
Carnival Horizon will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day transatlantic crossing departing Barcelona May 9 and arriving in New York on May 23, 2018. Five stunning European and Canadian ports will be featured: Malaga, Spain; Gibraltar; Lisbon, Portugal; and Vigo, Spain – Carnival's first visit to the centuries-old seaside town – along with a stop at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Eight-Day Caribbean Cruises from the Big Apple
After arriving in New York, Carnival Horizon will offer an exciting summer schedule of eight-day Caribbean cruises operating round-trip from the Big Apple and featuring visits to Grand Turk; San Juan; and Amber Cove (Dominican Republic). Departure dates include May 28, June 5, 13 and 25, July 3, 11, 23 and 31, Aug. 8, 20 and 28, and Sept. 5, 2018. Additional departures from New York in summer 2018 are being planned and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Year-Round Six- and Eight-Day Caribbean Voyages from Miami
Carnival Horizon will then shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Prior to the start-up of this program, Carnival Horizon will offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

On its new Miami-based schedule, six-day cruises will depart Sundays, calling at Ocho Rios; Grand Cayman; and Cozumel. Two different eight-day itineraries will be offered with departures on Saturdays – one featuring Grand Turk; La Romana (Dominican Republic); Curacao; and Aruba; and the other visiting Grand Turk; San Juan; St. Kitts; and St. Maarten.

Dive Into Adventure With PADI Open Water Diver Course On Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean International is now the only cruise line in the world with onboard PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Five Star Dive Centers, which allows guests to become certified scuba divers as part of their vacation. Adventure seekers can dive in, exploring hundreds of storied shipwrecks in destinations like St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands, and some of the most vibrant and renowned coral reefs across the Caribbean, including the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world.

Dive Into Adventure With PADI Open Water Diver Course On Royal CaribbeanA"For the past 16 years Royal Caribbean has worked closely with PADI to develop our onboard dive program," said Roberta Jacoby, managing director, Global Tour Operations at Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. "No other cruise line offers the opportunity for guests to become PADI certified scuba divers as part of the cruise, making it an ultimate dive trip as well. When guests sign up for the PADI Open Water Diver Course, they receive first-rate training and diver certification, performing their own scuba dives amidst the beautiful and serene waters of multiple Caribbean destinations and the South Pacific."

Royal Caribbean's partnership with PADI opens up a vast underwater world for guests. Whether a newbie or experienced diver, Royal Caribbean offers a range of programs from a 30-minute Try Dive program, for those just wanting to get their feet wet, to PADI's Reactivate Program for certified divers wanting a refresher; prices starting at $29 and $59 per person, respectively. Those seeking the ultimate scuba dive vacation can enroll in PADI's Open Water Diver course to earn their complete scuba diving certification, starting at $599 per person. The premiere scuba course begins at home with the online course using either the PADI Touch™ app for mobile devices or PADI eLearning online for desktop and laptop computers, leaving more time for the fun of scuba diving while on vacation. Once on the high seas, divers will test the waters in the ship's pool before heading out to complete the four mandatory, open-water training dives in some of the world's most spectacular underwater surroundings. The training dives will be split among two different ports of call, allowing for maximum sightseeing in the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean or South Pacific. Upon returning home, guests will be certified scuba divers able to plan and execute dives on their own and have the stories to share about the aquatic world they've recently discovered.

Guests looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of the ocean and wonder of marine life can book their PADI course before boarding through the Cruise Planner, or while on board at one of the Royal Caribbean-exclusive PADI Five Star Dive Centers found on 10 ships across the fleet, including Oasis-, Freedom- and Voyager-class ships, as well as Quantum-class' Anthem of the Seas. PADI is the world's most respected and recognized organization in recreational scuba diver training and certification.

Disney Cruise Line Expands Marvel Day at Sea to Select Disney Magic Sailings from Miami in 2018
In 2018, Disney Cruise Line guests will celebrate Marvel Day at Sea on the Disney Magic during eight special voyages from Miami departing January through April. The new Marvel Day at Sea voyages from Miami follow the premiere of the epic event on seven special sailings from New York City in the fall of 2017. New character interactions and an immersive show with Doctor Strange take center stage in the lineup of entertainment throughout the day-long celebration on all Marvel Day at Sea cruises.

Disney Cruise Line guests will assemble on the Disney Magic to celebrate the epic adventures of the Marvel Universe's mightiest Super Heroes and Super VillainsMarvel Day at Sea combines the thrills of renowned Marvel comics, films and animated series, with the excitement of a Disney Cruise to summon everyone's inner Super Hero for the adventures that lie ahead during this unforgettable day at sea.

The event features exclusive character interactions, including the debut of Black Panther and Loki as part of a Disney vacation experience. Marvel Day at Sea also marks the first official appearance of Iron Man on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

In the Walt Disney Theatre, a spell-binding new show featuring Doctor Strange will keep families on the edge of their seats. Doctor Strange will showcase his journey from doubter to practitioner as he demonstrates the power of the mystic arts. The show concludes with an epic battle where guests must help Doctor Strange against the Dark Dimension.

Occurring on one action-packed day during each of the special Disney Magic sailings, Marvel Day at Sea transports guests to a new realm of possibilities when the Marvel Universe assembles on the ship. The event features all-day entertainment including interactions with some of the mightiest Marvel Super Heroes and the menacing foes who oppose them, an extraordinary deck party, Marvel-themed youth activities, special merchandise and unique food and beverage offerings.

Also featured are exclusive at-sea screenings of fan-favorite films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe including the newest theatrical releases, as well as viewings of the Disney XD shows: Marvel's Avengers Assemble, Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel Day at Sea hosts an awesome mix of immersive entertainment that is sure to empower guests to unlock their hidden superhuman abilities as they assemble their own Super Hero community onboard the Disney Magic on this very special day. Highlights include:

Unleash Your Inner Super Hero during the Ultimate Day at Sea

• Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Black Panther, Loki and other Marvel Universe Super Heroes and Villains are onboard for scheduled interactions and photos.

• During an immersive show in the Walt Disney Theatre, Doctor Strange demonstrates the power of the mystic arts and enlists guests in an epic battle against the Dark Dimension.

• A brand-new spectacular party fills the upper deck with music, dancing and games.

• The deck party culminates in a stunning display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects and the largest collection of Marvel Super Heroes and Super Villains ever assembled on a cruise ship.

• Kids and families summon their Marvel knowledge and enjoy friendly competition during trivia games, covering courageous heroes and fun facts from the Marvel Universe.

• For young heroes-in-training, Marvel-themed games, activities and arts and crafts will be offered throughout the day in the Marvel's Avengers Academy in the Oceaneer Club.

The new 2018 Marvel Day at Sea sailings depart from Miami on Jan. 7, 21; Feb. 4, 18; March 18; April 1, 15 and 29. The five-night cruises include a stop at Disney's private island Castaway Cay and either Cozumel, Mexico, or Grand Cayman.

Marvel Day at Sea from New York will be on seven- and eight-night Disney Magic Bahamian cruises departing on Oct. 6, 14, 28; Nov. 4, 11 and 18, 2017. All will include a stop at Disney's private island Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral, Fla., with a day at the Walt Disney World Resort. Marvel Day at Sea will be on one seven-night Canadian Coast cruise departing from New York on Oct. 21, 2017, with stops at Charlottetown, Sydney and Halifax.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.77 + 0.58%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.96 - 0.15%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.34 + 2.63%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.00 + 2.34%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the two 14,000 ton sister ships that entered service for Cunard in 1971 & 1972 and were replaced in 1976 & 1977.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which passenger/cruise ship was the first to have a swim up bar?

Answer - The Royal Viking Sun was the first to have a swim up bar.
courtesy of Robert Hampton, Newport News, Va.


Cruise News - January 16, 2017

MSC Cruises Breaks Ground On Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based world's largest privately-owned cruise line and brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, today broke ground on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Located south of Bimini in The Bahamas, the island is set to become a natural paradise exclusive to MSC Cruises guests as of November 2018. The Right Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas joined Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises' Executive Chairman, at the official Groundbreaking Ceremony along with other Bahamian ministers and government officials. This milestone marks the official commencement of the works that will turn this former industrial sand extraction site back into its original pristine state.

Future aerial view of Ocean Cay MSC Marine ReserveThe development of the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is part of MSC Cruises' unprecedented $10.2 billion investment plan, which includes the building of up to 11 next-generation smart ships coming into service between 2017 and 2026. The first phase of development of the marine reserve will now begin as the island is cleared of existing industrial infrastructure so it can be turned again into a pristine marine reserve.

"Working in partnership with the Government of The Bahamas, our aim is to turn an industrial wasteland into a thriving environment for man and nature alike, bringing the island and its surrounding waters back to their original stat," said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. "In so doing, we will substantially grow our Group's already strong investment in the Bahamian economy, offering long-term employment opportunities to the local population."

"Bearing testament to our ability to innovate, unlike other Caribbean cruise resorts, a purpose-built berth and pier will allow our cruise ships to dock directly at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Thus the island will de facto become an extension of the ship."

"Located merely 65 miles east of Miami, Florida, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve has 11,400 feet of beautiful coastline and crystal blue waters teaming with unique marine life. The island has some of the finest aragonite sands in the world and once the work is completed, its surrounding waters will be home again to beautiful corals and rich aquatic life," added Gianluca Suprani, head of global port development and shore side activities at MSC Cruises. "It will become a truly exclusive destination for MSC Cruises guests to experience the best the Caribbean has to offer."

A comprehensive landscaping plan will see more than 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, planted on the island, returning to their lush natural habitat.

MSC Seaside and other MSC Cruises ships operating in the Caribbean will call Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve regularly on their itineraries from November 2018 onwards.

Carnival Corporation Launches First of Three New Ships in 2017
Carnival Corporation recently launched the Seabourn Encore, the first of three new ships that will enter service in 2017 across three of its 10 global cruise brands. Carnival Corporation will also launch Majestic Princess from Princess Cruises in April, which will be the world's first cruise ship built specifically for the Chinese market, and its Germany-based AIDA Cruises brand in July will launch AIDAperla, one of the world's most environmentally friendly and technologically advanced ships.

 Pictured (L to R): Seabourn Captain Mark Dexter, Sarah Brightman and Seabourn President Richard MeadowsFollowing the launch of Seabourn Encore, the upcoming 2017 additions of Majestic Princess and AIDAperla are part of the 17 ships scheduled for delivery for Carnival Corporation and its brands through 2022, creating measured capacity growth over time that enables the company's global fleet to meet accelerating demand for cruise vacations in every region of the world.

"On the heels of launching three new ships in 2016, it is exciting to have three more new ships join our fleet in 2017 as we re-invest on multiple fronts to continue raising the bar in providing our guests with a great vacation experience at an exceptional value," said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation.

Added Frizzell: "Introducing new ships is part of our long-term strategy to build state-of-the-art vessels that are highly efficient to operate while creating excitement and demand among consumers. Of course, as stunning and beautiful as our new and existing ships are, what matters even more is the passionate focus of our 120,000 employees on providing our guests with extraordinary experiences to over 700 ports around the world that land-based vacations simply cannot match. All in all, it is rewarding to see more and more consumers recognizing that cruising is the world's best vacation and vacation value."

The three new ships scheduled to join Carnival Corporation's fleet include:

Seabourn: Seabourn Encore – Official launch date of January 2017
Seabourn Encore, the fourth all-suite ship in Seabourn's fleet, was launched Jan. 7 at a festive evening ceremony pier side at Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore, a key Asian shipping hub and popular homeport in southeast Asia for Carnival Corporation cruise ships. The launch featured international recording artist and world's best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman presiding over the naming ceremony as godmother of the new 600-guest ship.

The vessel was designed by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany and features contemporary interiors and modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. Tihany is also designing a second ship, Seabourn Ovation, which is currently under construction and scheduled to launch in spring 2018.

Seabourn Encore will expand and build on the line's award-winning Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. The 40,350-gross ton ship is configured with one additional deck, expanded public areas and a private veranda for every suite.

Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service by its exceptional crew.

Princess Cruises: Majestic Princess – Official launch date of April 2017
Majestic Princess will be the world's first cruise ship built specifically for the Chinese market, where Carnival Corporation, led by Princess Cruises and Italy-based Costa Cruises, maintains industry leadership in a market expected to eventually become the world's largest cruising region. The 143,000-ton vessel, with capacity for 3,560 guests based on double occupancy, will showcase the exclusive Princess Class experience enhanced with features designed specifically for Chinese travelers.

Majestic Princess will also offer the international flavor of cruising with Princess Cruises, drawn from the brand's award-winning expertise as the world's leader in premium destination cruising.

Majestic Princess will be the only cruise ship that offers two specialty dinner menus designed by Michelin star chefs at sea in China.

One offering is Harmony, created in partnership with Richard Chen, former chef of Wing Lei – the first Chinese restaurant in North America awarded a Michelin star. Harmony will feature haute Chinese cuisine paired with pristine ocean views and modern décor, serving Chen's interpretation of classic Cantonese dishes. The second Michelin star dining experience will be "La Mer – A French Bistro" from three-Michelin star chef Emmanuel Renaut.

The ship will also offer Princess' signature Movies Under the Stars, with the largest outdoor screen at sea, and the exciting Princess Water Color Fantasy fountain and light show.

Guests will also experience the signature SeaWalk, the industry's first glass-floor walkway at sea, and SeaView Bar featuring "flair" bartending with the best views at sea.

The Piazza Atrium, the central focal point of the ship, features live entertainment throughout the day and evening. It is a grand spectacle surrounded by The Shops of Princess, nearly 1,100 square meters of luxury boutiques, which include designer brand shops from Cartier, Bvlgari and Chopard and leather goods from Burberry and Gucci, to name a few.

Accommodations will be configured to appeal to families and multigenerational travelers, and all outside staterooms will have private balconies.

AIDA Cruises: AIDAperla – Official launch date of July 2017
AIDAperla is the 12th and second of a new-generation vessel in the fleet for AIDA Cruises, the most recognized cruise brand in Germany and one of the country's fastest-growing and most successful tourism businesses that has pioneered the "green cruising" concept. At 124,500 tons with 1,643 cabins, AIDAperla will be among the world's most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly cruise ships.

AIDAperla will – like its sister ship AIDAprima -- feature the revolutionary hull design that significantly enhances energy efficiency. It will also use the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS), which was a first in the cruise industry on AIDAprima. This modern technology enables the ships to glide on a cushion of air, further reducing fuel consumption.

The ship will also feature AIDA's Spray Bar, an exclusive, all-white champagne lounge, which is spread across two decks and operated via partnership with Moët & Chandon.

In 2018, Carnival Corporation plans to launch three new ships from Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Seabourn. The Carnival Horizon, sister ship of the Carnival Vista, from Carnival Cruise Line is scheduled for delivery in March 2018; the Seabourn Ovation from Seabourn is scheduled for delivery in spring 2018; and ms Nieuw Statendam, sister ship of ms Koningsdam, from Holland America Line is scheduled for delivery in November 2018.

Viking Announces New Ocean Cruise Itineraries In Alaska, Australia, Asia And The Caribbean
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced 13 new itineraries that will roll out in 2017, 2018 and 2019. By 2019, fast-growing Viking will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line, with six 930-passenger ocean ships and will offer guests new opportunities for exploration in Alaska, Australia, Asia and the Caribbean.

Viking Announces New Ocean Cruise Itineraries In Alaska, Australia, Asia And The Caribbean"Viking will mark major milestones in 2017. We celebrate our 20th anniversary; we will welcome two new Longships on the rivers in Europe; and we will double our ocean fleet to four sister ships by the end of the year," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "Our destination-focused ocean itineraries are built on the same successful principles as our river itineraries – we offer our guests more time in port, enriching cultural experiences, the best-designed ships at sea, and we do not nickel-and-dime. Starting later this year, our guests will have even more choices to explore around the world in 'the Viking way.'"

New 2017 – 2019 Itineraries
Viking's new ocean itineraries will bring guests to a growing number of iconic destinations around the world, providing behind-the-scenes insights and opportunities in each port of call. With new sailings embarking in Miami, Mumbai, Bangkok, Beijing, Bali, Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Vancouver, guests can choose base itineraries ranging from eight to 23 days, with additional combination cruise options. Highlights of the new itineraries include:

• Turquoise Seas of the Western Caribbean – (Miami to Miami; sailing on Viking Sky; November 2017 – February 2018) – Discover the diverse treasures of the western Caribbean during this eight-day itinerary, from ancient ruins to colonial architecture. Guests will explore the mysterious temples of Altun Ha in Belize, the heart of the Mayan Center; walk in the steps of Hemingway's Key West haunts; and marvel at Cozumel's blue waters at Punta Sur. Sailing roundtrip from Miami, guests will visit three countries and five ports.

• Panama & Central America – (Miami to Miami; sailing on Viking Sky; November – December 2017 and January 2018) – From Central American countries including Costa Rica, Columbia, Honduras, Belize and more, guests will immerse themselves into the colorful cities and rich cultures, visiting eight countries and nine ports on this 15-day itinerary. While making the roundtrip from Miami, guests will experience one of the world's great engineering feats, the Panama Canal, discover Costa Rica's famous rainforest and explore Old Town Cartagena's colonial architecture, a UNSECO World Heritage Site.

• Atlantic Crossing – (Miami to Barcelona; sailing on Viking Sky; March 3, 2018) – During this classic trans-Atlantic journey, guests enjoy dining, taking in the ship's amenities and relaxing while cruising the Atlantic Ocean. The 14-day sailing will also call on ports in both Europe and the New World, including Florida's sun-kissed city of glorious beaches and art deco buildings. In Europe, destinations include the "Garden Island" of Madeira and the artistic, vibrant city of Barcelona.

• Passage to India – (Athens to Mumbai; sailing on Viking Spirit; August 18, 2018) – On this 21-day itinerary, guests will trace the routes of the earliest merchants from Greece to India, with ports of call in six countries including Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Oman. Along the journey, guests will accompany local guides to ancient treasures, visit the astonishing red sandstone city of Petra and see the Great Pyramids and Sphinx in Cairo.

• Across the Bay of Bengal – (Mumbai to Bangkok; sailing on Viking Spirit; September 8, 2018) – Guests will experience five unique countries on one spectacular 16-day journey, including overnight ports of call in Mumbai, Colombo and Bangkok to fully explore these exciting cities. From meeting the caretakers of the National Gandhi Museum to mingling with shoppers at a traditional Bangkok market, guests will immerse themselves into the experience of each city and discover its rich culture first-hand.

• Capitals of the Far East – (Hong Kong to Beijing or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit, October 7 and October 21, 2018) – Voyage to the iconic cities across three countries including China, Taiwan and South Korea. Along this 15-day journey, guests will experience the region's culture and heritage while exploring sites including the Forbidden City and Great Wall of China, and the Huaxi Street Night Market in Taiwan. Guests will also enjoy a day of sailing along the Yellow Sea, relaxing with complimentary tea service on board in the Wintergarden or yoga on the Sports Deck.

• Southeast Asia & Hong Kong – (Bangkok to Hong Kong or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; September 23, 2018, November 4, 2018 and April 7, 2019) – Discover the gems of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong during this 15-day cruise visiting four countries and seven ports. Spend two days in Bangkok touring the vibrant city and its landmarks, including the Grand Palace featuring the Emerald Buddha, and sampling Thai cuisine. Guests continue the journey with ports of call in Cambodia and Vietnam and then enjoy two nights visiting the many museums and stores in this shopper's paradise of Hong Kong.

• Komodo & the Australian Coast – (Sydney to Bali or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; November 30, 2018 and March 10, 2019) – During this 17-day sailing, guests will experience 11 ports of call including Indonesia's popular island of Bali and Australia's cosmopolitan city, Sydney, and the stunning Whitsunday Island near the Great Barrier Reef. Viking will also bring guests face to face with the region's residents, including the Komodo dragon, at the Komodo National Park.

• Bangkok, Bali & Beyond – (Bangkok to Bali or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; November 18, 2018 and March 26, 2019) – Spanning 13-days, guests will experience the capitals of Asian art and culture in the seven ports of call throughout Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Witness Southeast Asia's long-held traditions and bustling capital cities. Marvel at Kuala Lumpur's soaring Petronas Towers, and absorb the cultural diversity of Singapore with a resident by your side; and experience the historic riches of Jakarta.

• Australia & New Zealand – (Sydney to Auckland and the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; December 2018 – February 2019) – Witness a rich blend of native and European cultures amid the sophisticated coastal cities of Australia and New Zealand. From the metropolitan cities of Melbourne and Sydney to the natural beauty of coastal New Zealand, guests will explore nine ports of call during this 15-day journey to the "Land Down Under." Sip on the famous wines of the region; explore UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Australia's Blue Mountains; capture panoramic views from Mt. Victoria in New Zealand; and greet the indigenous wildlife, such as kangaroos and wallabies.

• Far Eastern Horizons – (Hong Kong to Tokyo; sailing on Viking Spirit; April 21, 2019) – Explore the imperial treasures of one of the most captivating corners of Asia during this 15-day sailing. Mingle with merchants in Hong Kong's vibrant Stanley Market; learn the nuances of Taiwan from a local resident; and witness the bustling Japanese culture. This itinerary calls upon four countries and nine ports, with overnights in Hong Kong, Hiroshima, Shimizu and Tokyo to fully explore these cities.

• North Pacific Passage – (Tokyo to Vancouver; sailing on Viking Spirit; May 5, 2019) – Guests will experience the cultural riches and majestic beauty of Japan, Russia, Alaska and Canada on this 23-day sailing. Unravel the mysteries of Japan with local guides, and learn about life in a remote Russian city before crossing the Bering Sea, tracing the legendary path of the first human migration to the Americas. In Alaska, sail into glacier-strewn, mountain-ringed bays onto iconic frontier towns, such as Kodiak, Sitka and more. Guests will also enjoy scenic cruising through the famed Inside Passage.

• Alaska & the Inside Passage – (Vancouver to Seward or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; May – August 2019) – During this 11-day itinerary, guests will sail into the wilds of the "Great Frontier," immersing themselves in a world of Tlingit heritage, exploring charming seaside towns and pristine glacier-lined bays, and cruising the narrow channels of the famed Inside Passage. Sailing from Vancouver, Canada, guests will experience eight iconic ports of call including Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau and Skagway.

Carnival Cruise Line to Reposition Ships in Three Key Homeports in 2018, Providing Exciting New Vacation Choices From Galveston, Port Canaveral and Miami
Carnival Cruise Line will reposition three of its newest and largest ships to new homeports in 2018, expanding upon the exciting variety of cruise options available from Galveston, Texas, Port Canaveral, Fla., and Miami. In September 2018 Carnival Vista will move to Galveston; Carnival Breeze will reposition to Port Canaveral; and Carnival Magic will shift to Miami.

Carnival Vista to Offer Two Week-Long Caribbean Itineraries from GalvestonCarnival Vista to Offer Two Week-Long Caribbean Itineraries from Galveston
Beginning Sept. 23, 2018, the newest ship in Carnival’s fleet, the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista, will begin sailing from Galveston and offer two different seven-day western Caribbean itineraries departing every Sunday and visiting the region’s most popular destinations. The first itinerary includes calls at Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, while the other features visits to Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize, and Cozumel.

Designed to connect guests to the ocean with sweeping views and plenty to do both outdoors and in, Carnival Vista offers an exciting array of groundbreaking features including SkyRide, a suspended open-air cycling experience; the world’s first IMAX Theatre on a ship; an expansive water park featuring the colorful Kaleid-o-slide, the line’s first tube slide; RedFrog Pub & Brewery featuring the first brewery on a North American-based ship; and Family Harbor with family-friendly staterooms, a family concierge, the Family Harbor Lounge and more.

Carnival Vista, which debuted in 2016, will join Carnival Freedom and Carnival Valor sailing year-round from Galveston.

Carnival Breeze to Offer Seven-Day Cruises Year-Round from Port Canaveral
Carnival Breeze will kick off its new Port Canaveral-based program with a one-time six-day cruise to Nassau; Amber Cove (Dominican Republic); and Grand Turk on Sept. 30, 2018, followed by the start of year-round alternating eastern and western Caribbean cruises beginning Oct. 6, 2018. Those voyages will depart every Saturday with eastern Caribbean itineraries calling at Amber Cove, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk. Western Caribbean voyages will feature Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay and Costa Maya, part of Carnival’s exclusive Cozumel Plus itineraries offering extended stays in Cozumel and a variety of unique and interesting shore excursions on the island and on the Mexican mainland.

Longer Length Carnival Journeys Cruises on Carnival Breeze
For guests who desire a longer length experience, Carnival Breeze will operate two Carnival Journeys cruises. On Sept. 16, 2018, as the ship repositions from Galveston to Port Canaveral, it will operate a 14-day Carnival Journeys cruise calling at Grand Cayman, Aruba, Curaçao, Grenada, Barbados, Dominica and St. Maarten.

Another 14-day Carnival Journeys cruise operating round-trip from Port Canaveral Saturday, Nov. 3-17, 2018, includes stops at eight Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, St. Maarten, Tortola, and San Juan.

Carnival Breeze will be the newest and largest Carnival ship to sail from Port Canaveral, which is also the year-round homeport for Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Liberty. Carnival Breeze features Thrill Theater, an immersive multidimensional special effects experience that makes viewers feel as if they’re part of the movie. Other highlights include a massive WaterWorks aqua park offering splash-tastic water slides and the 300-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, and SportSquare, an expansive recreation area with a suspended ropes course, mini golf, an outdoor fitness area and more.

Carnival Magic to Offer Seven-Day Caribbean Cruises from Miami
Carnival Magic will launch a year-round schedule of seven-day alternating eastern and western Caribbean cruises departing Sundays from PortMiami beginning Sept. 30, 2018. Eastern Caribbean cruises will call at Amber Cove, St. Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk. Western Caribbean sailings will feature Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay, Belize and Cozumel.

Carnival Magic will also offer a special seven-day Cozumel Plus holiday cruise departing Miami Dec. 23, 2018, and calling at Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay and Grand Cayman.

The 130,000-ton Carnival Magic features the line’s signature RedFrog Pub, the SportSquare outdoor recreation area and Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant. In 2016 the ship underwent an extensive multimillion-dollar makeover that added a variety of exciting dining and bar innovations, including Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, Pizzeria del Capitano and the Alchemy Bar.

Carnival Magic will join Carnival Glory, Carnival Sensation, and Carnival Victory at the line’s busiest homeport.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.46 - 0.43%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 85.09 + 0.64%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.28 - 3.39%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 44.95 + 1.26%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which passenger/cruise ship was the first to have a swim up bar?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Cabins have traditionally been referred to as staterooms. From where does the term "stateroom" originate?

Answer - Originally, the term "stateroom" referred to the better-quality lodging available aboard riverboats plying the rivers of the early United States; these rooms were named after various states of the Union.
courtesy of Manuella Flynn


Cruise News - January 9, 2017

Seabourn Encore Christened in Singapore
Seabourn formally introduced Seabourn Encore to the world at a festive evening ceremony pier side in Singapore today. International recording artist and world's best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman presided over the naming ceremony as godmother of the new 600-guest ship, the first of two new all-suite vessels for the company.

Guests and VIPs joined Seabourn staff to enjoy the vibrant, entertainment-filled launch festivities as a projection screen showed the climactic moment when Brightman sent a bottle of champagne smashing against the bow of the ship, a time-honored ship christening tradition. A host of local musicians and cultural acts, including lion dancers and stilt walkers, energized the event to send the ship and its guests off in style.

 Pictured (L to R): Seabourn Captain Mark Dexter, Sarah Brightman and Seabourn President Richard Meadows"The launch of Seabourn Encore marks the start of a new era of ultra-luxury cruising," said Richard Meadows, President of Seabourn. "Seabourn Encore marks a major step forward in terms of growth for our company. This ship is stunningly beautiful and I know guests are going to be absolutely captivated as they step aboard and see it firsthand."

"We are honored that Singapore hosted the christening of Seabourn's crown jewel. This event marks another milestone in our partnership with Seabourn Cruise Line and the Carnival Corporation," added Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board. "It is also testament to the growing appeal of Southeast Asia as the destination of choice for discerning travellers. We are confident that Seabourn's guests will enjoy experiencing the rich and diverse offerings of the region, and look forward to welcoming more of Carnival Corporation's ships to Singapore."

Following the naming ceremony, Seabourn Encore departed on its Inaugural Voyage, the 10-day Gems of the Java Sea cruise, bound for Indonesia. The ship will then move on to a 16-day Great Barrier Reef & Gold Coast and back-to-back 16-day Australia & New Zealand voyages. The ship will then reverse the earlier 10-day Gems of the Java Sea cruise to Singapore, proceed on 16-day Jewels of India & Arabia cruise to Dubai, and finish her first season with a 19-day Arabian Gems & Holy Land voyage before ending her winter season at Athens on May 5.

Seabourn Encore will spend summer 2017 along the Mediterranean, offering rich and diverse itineraries including a 7-day Greek & Italian Jewels cruise departing from Piraeus (Athens), Greece on May 6, followed by a 7-day Riviera Allure voyage departing Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy on May 13. She will go on to offer a series of 7-, 10-, and 14-day cruises throughout the region, including a dynamic Mediterranean Moments itinerary that departs Barcelona (Spain) on June 3 and makes stops along the charming cities and coastal villages of France, Monaco, Italy and Greece. In August, the ship will finish summer with a 10- or 20-Day UNESCO Gems of the Western Mediterranean cruise, arriving in Barcelona, Spain, on September 13 for the start of its autumn season.

Seabourn Encore is the fourth ultra-luxury vessel to join the Seabourn fleet and the first of two ships to be designed by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany. The second, Seabourn Ovation, is currently under construction and is scheduled to launch in spring 2018.

Intended by Tihany "to feel more like a luxury yacht," Seabourn Encore features modern design elements and innovations in keeping with Seabourn's reputation for understated elegance, as well as one additional deck and newly expanded public areas. New features include The Retreat, a secluded for-charge sanctuary for guests to stretch out and relax in private cabanas, and Sushi, a one-of-a-kind dining destination found on no other ship in the Seabourn fleet.

With the inaugural voyage, Seabourn Encore is also marking the formal debut of several new onboard partner programs. Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil is being introduced in partnership with The Onboard Spa by Steiner, offering guests a holistic spa and wellness experience that integrates physical, social, environmental and spiritual well-being. A new production show, 'An Evening with Tim Rice,' created exclusively for Seabourn in association with Belinda King Creative Productions, will also have its debut on board in the ship's Grand Salon. Seabourn Encore will also feature The Grill by Thomas Keller, a restaurant inspired by the classic American chophouse that first opened on Seabourn Quest last year. All three partner programs will be rolled out across the entire Seabourn fleet by 2018.

Norwegian Bliss to Sail from Miami in Winter 2018
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that Norwegian Bliss, the brand's sixteenth ship, will set sail for the Cruise Capital of the World after her inaugural summer season in Alaska, to seasonally homeport in Miami in winter 2018. Beginning on November 17, 2018, Norwegian Bliss will sail seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises each Saturday from PortMiami, featuring calls in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Bliss’ custom design will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to “imagine Bliss” and create their ideal experience at sea, with a wide variety of accommodations including luxurious suites in The Haven by Norwegian, Studio staterooms for solo travelers with virtual ocean views, and new connecting staterooms ideal for large groups and families traveling together. Norwegian Bliss will also feature two observation lounges, including one exclusive to guests of The Haven, perfect for whale watching in Alaska or taking in sunsets in the Caribbean.

“We are incredibly excited to announce that we are once again bringing our newest and most innovative ship to Miami, with the arrival of Norwegian Bliss in November 2018," said Andy Stuart, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. “As the Caribbean is our most sought-after winter destination, there was no question that Norwegian Bliss would sail from Miami. This incredibly dynamic ship will offer stunning ocean views from almost every venue, spacious and thoughtfully designed accommodations that fit with every cruiser’s needs, and a variety of exciting and engaging venues that will continue Norwegian’s history of innovation in providing the ultimate dining and entertainment experiences at sea.”

Norwegian Bliss to Sail from Miami in Winter 2018At a ceremony held at the company’s corporate offices in Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. President and CEO Frank Del Rio and Mr. Stuart shared the exciting news, alongside Miami-Dade County officials.

“PortMiami is proud to be recognized as the Cruise Capital of the World, welcoming more passengers than any other port in the world,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “I welcome Norwegian Cruise Line’s continued growth in Miami-Dade County. Cruise lines and their passengers are vital to the continual economic growth and development of the tourism industry in our community. We look forward to welcoming the Norwegian Bliss in Winter 2018.”

“Norwegian has been breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising for 50 years,” said PortMiami Director and CEO Juan M. Kuryla. “We couldn’t be prouder to be the homeport of the Norwegian Bliss, the cruise line’s sixteenth ship. We are grateful to Norwegian for entrusting PortMiami with its newest and most innovative ship. We truly look forward to the ship’s arrival in 2018.”

En route to Miami following the completion of her Alaska cruising season, Norwegian Bliss will sail one five-day Pacific Coastal sailing from Vancouver to Los Angeles on September 30, with an overnight stay in Vancouver and calls in Victoria, British Columbia and San Francisco. Norwegian Bliss’ seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises will feature calls in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas, adding Ensenada, Mexico on its eight-day itinerary. For those looking for a once-in-a-lifetime cruise experience, Norwegian Bliss will depart Los Angeles on November 3 for a 14-day journey to Miami through the new locks of the recently expanded Panama Canal, with calls in Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, Mexico; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica; and Cartagena, Colombia.

The same features that make Norwegian Bliss the ideal ship for the ultimate Alaska experience will also allow guests to experience the Caribbean like never before. The crown jewel of these features is an incredible 180 degree Observation Lounge, located at the front of the ship on deck 15. Spanning 20,000 square feet, the sprawling Observation Lounge will be a breathtaking experience, offering floor-to-ceiling windows that will be the perfect spot from which to take in the stunning sunset views of the beautiful islands of the Caribbean during her winter season or the awe-inspiring glaciers and vistas of Alaska in the summer. The lounge, designed with rich woods and a silver and gray color palate, will offer an abundance of plush, modern seating including couches and chaise loungers to take in the view, along with a 360 degree polished aluminum and quartz-topped central bar where guests can enjoy fine cocktails and spirits.

In the spirit of Norwegian’s long history of innovation, Norwegian Bliss will have accommodations for everyone on board, with options ranging from staterooms designed for solo travelers, family-friendly connecting staterooms, ultra chic suites and more. Norwegian’s signature ship-within-a-ship concept, The Haven by Norwegian, will once again adorn the top of the ship with 80 ultra-luxurious suites. The exclusive key-card access three-story enclave on decks 17 -19 will be a secluded paradise with a private restaurant with outdoor terrace, private lounge with a dedicated mixologist, courtyard area with retractable roof that features a pool, two whirlpools, sauna, spa treatment rooms and sunbathing deck. All suites in the Haven will enjoy the services of a butler and a private concierge, as well as priority access to reservations, VIP embarkation and disembarkation, exclusive reserved seating in the ship'stheatre and much more.

Guests staying in The Haven on Norwegian Bliss will take in luxury, style and stunning views with their very own exclusive two-story Haven Observation Lounge, a brand new feature for The Haven, which will feature expansive 180 degree views from two decks, the same as the ship’s officers’ experience from the Bridge, and beverage service.

Each suite in The Haven by Norwegian will feature crisp ultra-luxurious modern furnishings in rich wood tones, accented by custom stonework, marble-topped nightstands and vanities, and indulgent linens. Suite options will include the largest and most luxurious suites onboard, The Haven Deluxe Owner's Suites, which will have a new look and feel with an indulgent cream and gray color scheme, include captain’s views and two spacious balconies. Additional Haven suites include The Haven Two-Bedroom Family Villa, The Haven Courtyard Penthouse, The Haven Deluxe Spa Suite, The Haven Forward and Aft-facing Penthouses and the all-new The Haven Suite that can connect with a Balcony stateroom, so large families and groups are able to be accommodated with ease.

Norwegian Bliss will also feature new connecting stateroom options across stateroom categories—ideal for large groups and families traveling together who want to enjoy quality time together at sea. The ship’s 308 Mini-Suites are designed for guests looking to enjoy a little more of a spacious experience at sea featuring larger bathrooms than a standard Balcony stateroom with some offering bathtubs, and a balcony for gazing out to sea. Designed to offer guests near constant views of the sea, Norwegian Bliss will have 1,088 Balcony staterooms that feature plush décor in soothing cool tones, along with a sofa, vanity and desk area and coffee maker. Norwegian Bliss will also include 111 Oceanview staterooms that feature large picturesque windows to take in the spectacular sea views.

Solo travelers can enjoy Norwegian’s popular award-winning Studio staterooms aboard Norwegian Bliss, now with virtual ocean views. The Studio staterooms include thought-out features and amenities designed and priced for solo travelers. The Studio complex is comprised of 82 staterooms, accessible by private keycard-entry with access to a private lounge exclusively for Studio guests with snack service, board games and a member of the Cruise Staff dedicated to leading solo traveler meet ups and activities. All staterooms feature a full-sized bed, a window to the corridor, and separate areas for toilet, sink, and shower. Select Studios connect, perfect for single friends traveling together.

Norwegian Bliss’ also offers 374 Inside staterooms, which include two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed. Select Inside staterooms also have up to two additional Pullman

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Bliss is being constructed at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, Germany and is scheduled for delivery in Spring 2018. The third ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss’ hull art work was designed by premier marine life artist Wyland and will feature images of humpback whales, found in every ocean around the world, which will serve as large canvas to showcase the importance of conservation and ocean preservation.

During her inaugural summer season, Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly seven-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle, offering guests the premier way to see America’s last frontier, while also providing all of the innovative features, entertainment, signature dining and onboard experiences that Norwegian Cruise Line is known for around the globe. The ship’s itinerary will feature calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Launches Three New Holland America Line ‘Ships’ in Seattle
Holland America Line launched three new commuter “ships” Monday, Jan. 9, that will run on the Sound Transit Light Rail System in Seattle. The trains, which are wrapped to resemble Holland America Line’s newest ship, ms Koningsdam, will cruise the tracks through April 2017, when the summer cruise season to Alaska begins from the Port of Seattle.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Launches Three New Holland America Line ‘Ships’ in SeattleA special ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the University of Washington Station, with Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford and Honorary “Captain” Miles Lamb, an 11-year-old cancer survivor and patient of Seattle Children’s Hospital — a local nonprofit partner of the cruise line. During the ceremony Holland America Line presented a $5,000 check to Strong Against Cancer, an effort to gain funding for a cancer immunotherapy treatment being developed at Seattle Children’s Hospital with support from volunteer team captain Russell Wilson.

“As Seattle’s Hometown Cruise Line, we’re always looking for creative ways to increase awareness that we’re headquartered here. We sail from Seattle to Alaska all summer long, and we are a big contributor and supporter of the local community,” said Ashford. “Millions of people ride Seattle’s light rail each year, and we're excited to have these eye-catching trains sailing around the city and spreading the word in a fun and engaging way.

“Miles is a wonderful young man and a great honorary ‘captain’ for Holland America Line’s first-ever rail ‘ships,’” added Ashford. “This event also gave us a great opportunity to continue our support of Seattle Children’s Hospital and Strong Against Cancer to treat cancer among children.”

As Seattle’s Hometown Cruise Line, Holland America Line contributes $389 million to the city’s economy and $547 million across Washington state. The company employs 1,170 people at its headquarters in Seattle and works with more than 600 local vendors.

Princess Cays Added To Itineraries Of Six Carnival Cruise Line Ships Beginning In May 2017
The private Bahamian destination of Princess Cays has been added to the itineraries of six different Carnival Cruise Line ships beginning in May 2017. Carnival Cruise Line ships are expected to make 40 calls to Princess Cays in 2017 and 98 the following year.

Princess Cays Added To Itineraries Of Six Carnival Cruise Line Ships Beginning In May 2017Located on the southern tip of the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas and operated by Carnival's sister company Princess Cruises, Princess Cays is a breathtaking tropical oasis where vacationers can relax on miles of unspoiled white-sand beaches and swim in crystal clear waters teeming with tropical fish.

The facility includes a 40-acre complex highlighted by an observation tower offering panoramic views of the island, along with bars, restaurants and retail shops with local crafts, souvenirs and artwork. A complimentary barbeque lunch service featuring an array of delicious choices is also offered. Princess Cays is connected by a series of paved paths that lead to palm tree-dotted beaches where clamshells and private bungalows are available for rent. A variety of shore excursions – from dune buggy adventures and glass bottom boat tours to paddle boarding, windsurfing and kayaking – are also available.

Various operational enhancements, including the addition of larger, more efficient tenders to facilitate getting guests ashore quickly and comfortably, are currently underway.

Princess Cays will be featured on the following Carnival itineraries in 2017: select seven-day cruises aboard Carnival Pride from Baltimore; five-day voyages aboard Carnival Ecstasy from Charleston, S.C.; eight-day sailings on Carnival Conquest from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; five-day voyages on Carnival Elation from Jacksonville, Fla.; four-day voyages aboard Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral, Fla.; and four-day cruises aboard Carnival Sensation from Miami.

"At Carnival, we're always looking for new and exciting destinations for our guests and Princess Cays is a beautiful island paradise with gorgeous beaches and an array of 'fun-in-the-sun' activities that our guests will really enjoy experiencing on their vacation," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Princess Cays is one of several private destinations and cruise facilities operated by Carnival Corporation. Others include Half Moon Cay (Bahamas), Grand Turk (Turks & Caicos), Puerta Maya (Cozumel), Mahogany Bay (Roatan) and Amber Cove (Dominican Republic). First Steel Cut For Two Luxury River Yachts For Crystal River Cruises At MV WERFTEN

First Steel Cut For Two River Yachts For Crystal River Cruises
Today MV WERFTEN celebrated the cutting of the first piece of steel in Wismar, marking the ceremonial start of construction of Crystal River Cruises' two additional Rhine Class luxury river yachts, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel, scheduled to sail in spring 2018. The first plates of the luxury river ships were flame cut in the presence of the Genting Group Executive Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's Economics Minister Harry Glawe and numerous other guests.

First Steel Cut For Two River Yachts For Crystal River CruisesThe structurally identical Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will be built completely at MV WERFTEN's Wismar site, and measure approximately 135 metres long and 11 metres wide. Specifically designed for the growing European luxury river cruise market, the ships will cruise the Rhine, the Danube, the Main and the Moselle, exploring the iconic locales of Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Hungary. Europe's only all-balcony, all-suite river ships will accommodate up to 106 guests, and offer luxurious services and amenities, including a 1.55 guest to crew ratio, Crystal's acclaimed butler service for every suite, plush king-sized beds that face toward the Panoramic Balcony-Windows, walk-in closets, and wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs. Additional enticing features include Crystal's highly-acclaimed cuisine in multiple eateries and a swimming pool.

"Today is another crowning achievement in the growth of the Crystal brand, as we take another step closer in further delivering the growing demand for a true luxury experience on Europe's rivers," said Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's Chairman, CEO and President. "I, along with my leaders at our wonderful parent company and our expert partners at MV WERFTEN, are excited in bringing Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel to life."

"This is a moving moment for us, because it is the first steel cutting ceremony under the MV-WERFTEN flag," said Jarmo Laakso, Managing Director of MV WERFTEN. "We are proud to be building these high-quality ships for Crystal River Cruises, which will meet highest safety and travel standards."

"MV WERFTEN is successfully continuing the path it has forged and actively pursuing its self-imposed targets," stated Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's Economics Minister Harry Glawe. "Every steel cut for a new ship is a positive signal for the entire maritime industry."

MV WERFTEN´s order book includes a total of nine ships for the next five years. In addition to four river cruise vessels, three expedition megayachts for Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises and two cruise ships of the Global Class for Star Cruises – the largest in the world regarding passenger capacity – will be built at the Group´s three shipyards.

Princess Unveils Newly Reimagined Youth & Teen Centers
Princess Cruises, in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications, announced plans to expand its Discovery at Sea partnership with reimagined youth centers, including new experiences and center designs to help young Princess explorers learn, play and create fun memorable memories while on a cruise vacation. This multi-million investment is currently rolling out fleet-wide through 2018, with program implementation taking place in early 2017 and new center designs planned for installation during scheduled ship renovations.

Princess Unveils Newly Reimagined Youth & Teen Centers"As part of our Come Back New promise, we are recommitting to our youngest cruisers and their families," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Through the Discovery brands, we have enriching new content to add to our already popular youth offerings and we're excited to incorporate interactive and age-specific design elements to share with our younger cruisers to give them the ultimate onboard experience."

Catering to specific age groups, there are three center themes where kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them discover, play, create and huddle, including:
• The Treehouse, ages 3-7 (formerly Pelicans): A bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed center including captivating creatures and hands-on activities for kids to focus on play time, creativity and the world around them.
• The Lodge, ages 8-12 (formerly Shockwaves): Inspired by the great outdoors, this cozy center is filled with sports activities and fun places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge.
• The Beach House, for ages 13-17 (formerly Remix) offers a contemporary surf-themed lounge, featuring a cool place for teens to hang out and socialize.

New youth and teen center programming includes MythBusters science activities with three hands-on challenges, featuring show star, Tory Belleci. In addition, new Camp Discovery destination-themed programs focusing on the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe will immerse young cruisers into the culture, nature and customs of these regions.

"The new youth and teen centers aboard Princess Cruises is a true collaboration between Princess Cruises and Discovery Consumer Products," said Robert Marick, senior vice president, North America Licensing and Global Location Based Entertainment, Discovery Communications. "This was a great opportunity to expand our Discovery at Sea partnership to refresh the youth program by incorporating popular shows and immersive activities and designs from the popular Discovery brands."

A framework of current and brand new children's programming (ages 3-12) are bundled under Camp Discovery categories. Core experiences include:

Play – indoor and outdoor gaming, sports and physical activities:
• Shark Hunters: Investigate mysterious Caribbean sharks on an interactive scavenger hunt
• Alaskan Explorers: Hunt for clues to the connections between Alaska's animals and people
• Try your skills on PlayStation, Nintendo Wii™, XBOX Kinect consoles, board games, air hockey and ping-pong
• Join dance classes and engage in friendly competitions
• Enjoy sports including basketball, mini golf, yoga and miniature Olympics

Discover – places, animals and hands-on experiments:
• MythBusters Science Activities: Try three hands-on challenges, featuring Tory Belleci from the show
• Survive Alaska: Invent tools to survive the harsh environment of The Great Land
• Animal Planet uncovers ferocious secrets in Shark Attack, and learn squid anatomy in Just Squiddin' Around
• Learn the science of magic or become an engineer for a day with programs from the California Science Center, home of the Endeavour space shuttle
• Inspire a love of nature from the regions we sail with Animal Planet Endangered Species activities and our Glacier Bay Jr. Ranger program

Huddle – fun interactions with peers:
• Extreme Sea Carnival: Caribbean music, dance, trivia and crafts light up the night for the whole family
• Wild Alaska Festival: Celebrate Alaskan nature at this family theme night
• Discovery at Sea™ theme days with activities inspired by Shark Week and Animal Planet
• Talent shows showcase singing, dancing, musical skills and jokes
• Theme nights: Include Pirate Night, with eye patch making, tattoos and a treasure hunt; Mexican Fiesta with music, Spanish lessons, traditional dances and costume making; Challenge Night with puzzle, riddle and physical challenges

Create – arts, crafts, science exploration:
• Make Animal Planet puppets, masks and paintings inspired by regional wildlife
• Create a solar system or build a "stomp rocket," inspired by Science Channel
• The Greatest Catch: Design your own invention to help you explore the ocean
• Compete: Join the Klutz paper airplane challenge or Lego boat-building contest
• JrChef@Sea: Learn cake decorating and enjoy the results with your family
• Klutz art projects: Craft bracelets, velvet art, jewelry and more

For The Beach House teen activities include:
• Rock the Boat Party: It's the occasion to dress up, stroll down the red carpet and flash your VIP badge, then enjoy an evening of mocktails, awards and celebrating your friends Movies: Get your scream on at Scary Movie Night or catch some recent hits at Late Night Movies
• Teen makeovers and glitter tattoos
• Dance Classes: Perfect your moves with guidance from one of our crew dancers, then show what you've got at dance competitions and parties
• Competitions: Give your skills a workout in our video game tournaments. Or play to win in air hockey, foosball and ping-pong tables

In addition, fun for the whole family can be enjoyed through a family fair in the Piazza featuring carnival-like booths and activities, family trivia, Stargazing with Discovery at Sea, family game night and new soon-to-be announced family-themed programs.

In partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, Princess Cruises introduced Discovery at Sea in 2015 offering memorable vacation experiences for the whole family to enjoy based on Discovery's breadth of brands and programming, like Shark Week and MythBusters. Interactive experiences are designed to bring to life the nature, wildlife and history of the regions guests are sailing. Guests can let their imaginations set sail with a variety of activities including stargazing, exclusive Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions and various onboard activities.

Grand Princess, sailing year round from San Francisco, is the first ship to offer young cruisers and teens, ages 3-17, this new wonder-filled center to discover new interests, make new friends and create lifelong memories. The next ships to receive newly renovated youth centers include Caribbean Princess (March), Regal Princess (April), Sea Princess (October) and Island Princess (November). Find the full rollout schedule at princess.com/family.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.69 + 3.13%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.55 + 3.06%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.36 + 4.42%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 44.39 + 4.37%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Cabins have traditionally been referred to as staterooms. From where does the term "stateroom" originate?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the two ships that were involved in the only war-time battle between oceanliners? The battle occurred off the coast of Trinidad and one of the liners was sunk.

Answer - In September of 1914, the Carmania intercepted the Hamburg-Amerika liner Cap Trafalgar, in the waters off Trinidad. After an hour the Cap Trafalgar went down . The Carmania had received a total of 79 hits, and seven crewmembers were lost in the battle.
courtesy of Ralph Sackett, Lichfield, UK


Cruise News - January 2, 2017

Carnival Corporation Introduces Ocean Medallion
Carnival Corporation today announced it has developed the world’s first interactive guest experience platform capable of transforming vacation travel into a highly personalized and elevated level of customized service for millions of guests.

Carnival Corporation Introduces Ocean MedallionThe company unveiled the Ocean Medallion, a first-of-its-kind wearable device that enables a personal concierge by bridging the physical and digital worlds to deliver a new level of personalized service not previously considered possible -- including sophisticated wayfinding, food and beverage on demand, an array of interactive gaming, personalized entertainment experiences and more. The quarter-sized, 1.8-ounce disc can be accessorized with jewelry, clips, key chains and bands or simply carried in a pocket or pocketbook.

Powered by proprietary technology developed by Carnival Corporation that features an Internet of Things (IoT) network of intelligent sensors and experiential computing devices, the Ocean Medallion revolutionizes guest service not only for the cruise industry, but the broader vacation industry. It will be officially introduced by CEO Arnold Donald on January 5 when he becomes the first travel industry executive to deliver the opening keynote address at CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show.

The Ocean Medallion goes well beyond the growing number of wearables used by theme parks and other vacation companies by leaving behind the required action of “tap” and ushering in a new paradigm for guest interactions.

Some of its benefits will:

• streamline and expedite the port embarkation and disembarkation process
• allow guests to access their staterooms as they approach the door (no keycard required)
• locate friends and family around the cruise ship
• enable guests to purchase merchandise without any transaction, cards or paper
• deliver enhanced dining experiences based on food and beverage preferences
• power an array of interactive gaming and immersive entertainment experiences
• significantly enhance interactions with crew members and guests.

“With this interactive technology platform, we are poised to have our global cruise line brands at the vanguard of forever changing the guest experience paradigm – not just in the cruise industry but in the larger vacation market and potentially other industries,” said Carnival Corporation’s Donald. “Our focus is on exceeding guest expectations every single day and consistently delivering great experiences, and we do that extremely well. Now we are in prime position to take the guest experience to a level never before considered possible and build on cruising’s popularity and value as the fastest growing segment of the vacation sector.”

The Ocean Medallion is the only accessory needed to elevate the guest experience before, during and after each cruise in what the company is calling Ocean Medallion Class™.

The Ocean Medallion pairs with an optional personalized digital concierge called the Ocean Compass™, a digital experience portal available online, on smart devices, on kiosks in home ports, on stateroom TVs, on interactive surfaces located throughout the cruise ship and on devices carried by all guest service hosts.

Both innovations combine with an invisible network of proprietary sensors and computing devices embedded throughout the ship, home ports and destinations that collectively form the “Experience Innovation Operating System” – xiOS™.

The proprietary xiOS uses a guest-centric, Internet of Things approach to enable guests to maximize their experiences in real-time based on their choices and preferences – delivering enhanced personalization across every aspect of their cruise vacation. The xiOS seamlessly leverages hardware and software to enable all experiences including access, lodging, food and beverage, entertainment, retail, navigation, payment and media.

The new guest experience platform will debut on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess in November 2017, followed by Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess in 2018. The new Medallion Class on Princess Cruises will be rolled out over multiple years on the entire Princess Cruises fleet.

The guest experience platform is a key element of O·C·E·A·N™ or One Cruise Experience Access Network™, a bold new effort by Carnival Corporation focused on expanding the cruise vacation market through guest experience innovation, the development of original experiential media content that includes new TV programs airing on national TV, and expanding its portfolio of exclusive and unique destinations.

AIDAperla To Enter Service Two Months Early
AIDAperla, the latest ship to enter service for AIDA Cruises, will be arriving in the Western Mediterranean in July 2017, two months earlier than planned. Following AIDAprima's successful launch, AIDA Cruises will welcome her sister ship AIDAperla as the twelfth member of the fleet in 2017.

AIDAperla To Enter Service Two Months EarlyThe 984 ft cruise ship will begin cruising the Western Mediterranean as early as July 1, 2017. Palma de Mallorca – the capital of the Germans' favorite island – and Barcelona are the start and destination ports for AIDAperlas' seven-day cruises (Pearls of the Mediterranean 1) to Rome (Civitavecchia), Corsica and Florence (Livorno).

AIDAperla will be taking over the cruises sailed by AIDAbella. The latter ship will then be making additional cruises in Northern Europe. The precise routes will be announced shortly.

AIDA is extending its travel program, offering even more diversity for summer 2017 vacations. Guests who have booked a cruise with AIDAbella between June 30 and August 26, 2017 will be among the first to experience the latest member of the AIDA fleet, and will benefit from an expanded choice of staterooms.

Guests onboard AIDAperla will be able to choose from 14 different types of stateroom including the ship's spacious Veranda staterooms and her Panorama staterooms on the exclusive Patiodeck.

Additional onboard highlights include the Beach Club, housed beneath a weatherproof and UV-permeable foil dome or the Four Elements with its water slides and climbing garden. The exclusive Body & Soul Organic Spa offers a vast range of facilities for complete relaxation with various saunas, several indoor and outdoor pools, a tepidarium and a fireside room. The Lanai Deck with its Infinity pools, glass elevators, two skywalks, cutting-edge LED technology and aerial performance equipment for unique acrobatic shows as well as an interactive floating ball for the entertainment program complement the versatile offer. In addition to the Kids and Teens Club offerings, there will be a Mini Club providing childcare for children as young as 6 months.

These are just a few of the new recreational options on board the new AIDA generation, which have only recently been recognized with the prestigious Cruise Guide Awards 2016 for family-friendliness and sport &wellness.

The gastronomic options similarly leave nothing to be desired: 12 restaurants, 3 snack bars and 14 bars invite guests on a culinary voyage around the world.

From September 1, 2017 AIDAperla will then be setting sail as planned on four different routes for the metropolises of the Western Mediterranean (Pearls of the Mediterranean 1, 2, 3 & 4). From March 2018 AIDAperla will make her first appearance in Germany. The Hanseatic City of Hamburg will be the start and end port for seven-day round trips to the most beautiful metropolises in Western Europe such as London (Southampton), Paris (Le Havre), Brussels (Zeebrugge) or Rotterdam.

Star Wars Day at Sea Returns on Select Disney Fantasy Sailings
In 2017, Disney Cruise Line guests can celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga during a day-long celebration aboard 15 special sailings on the Disney Fantasy: Star Wars Day at Sea.

Star Wars Day at Sea Returns on Select Disney Fantasy SailingsStar Wars Day at Sea combines the power of the Force, the magic of Disney and the excitement of cruising for an out-of-this-galaxy experience unlike any other.

Occurring one day during each of 15 Disney Fantasy sailings, Star Wars Day at Sea transports guests to a galaxy far, far away — in the Caribbean. The event features a full day of Star Wars celebrations, including a deck party, encounters with favorite characters, Star Wars-themed family and youth activities, unique food and beverage offerings, and special merchandise.

Throughout the day, Star Wars Younglings and Jedi Masters alike can enjoy the immersive entertainment. Intergalactic highlights include:

Force-filled Fun for Everyone

• Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Stormtroopers, Boba Fett, Sabine, Ezra and other characters from across the Star Wars galaxy are onboard for interactions and photos.
• Kids and families enjoy friendly competition during Star Wars trivia games, putting their knowledge of the film and television sagas to the test.
• Guests are encouraged to bring their costumes and cosplay and participate in the costume celebration held in the ship’s atrium.
• Guests can watch “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the first in a new series of standalone Star Wars films, as well as all seven films in the Star Wars

Younglings Use Their Power

• In “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple,” Force-sensitive children learn the ways of the Jedi and put their skills to the test in a final face-off with Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister.
• In “Padawan Mind Challenge,” Younglings participate in a fun, brain-bending battle of wits and trivia to become mind challenge masters.
• “Star Wars Saga: Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away” is a guest participation show featuring retelling of favorite Star Wars stories, with the help of props and special effects.
• Star Wars-themed arts and crafts, games and activities are offered throughout the day in all youth spaces.

Star Wars Deck Celebration Spectacular

• The day concludes with more intergalactic fun when the “Summon the Force” deck party blasts off to an exciting evening filled with music, dancing and games.
• The “Summon the Force” deck show is accompanied by John Williams’ epic score, now including theme music from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
• The party culminates as Star Wars characters converge for a celebration of the saga in an epic show, complete with fireworks finale.
• In 2017, there is a new story, with more pyrotechnics, special effects and stunts.

Merchandise, Food and Beverage

• Event merchandise exclusive to Star Wars Day at Sea is available on each sailing, including a range of collectible items, customizable nametags and 11 special trading pins.
• An epic day is not complete without a feast for the palate, so the dinner menu includes creative fare such as Sand People salad, Bantha steak empanadas, Opee Sea Killer shrimp cocktail and Qui-Gon’s crisp chicken. Sweet endings complete the meal with Calrissian velvet cake, Cloud City macarons and a frozen carbonite sundae. S
• pecialty Star Wars-themed beverages include the colorful Galaxy in a Glass made with rum, coconut, mango and strawberry and a non-alcoholic Planetoid Punch.
• For sipping, there are non-alcoholic beverages in collectible cups like a BB-8 sipper and Chewbacca stein, and for snacking, popcorn is served in containers themed to Darth Vader’s helmet or a tie fighter.

Film Screenings

• Guests can watch all seven films in the Star Wars saga and follow Darth Vader, Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Rey and Finn along their epic journey.
• Enjoy the latest Star Wars installment, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
• Also showing are episodes of the new Disney XD animated series, Star Wars Rebels.
• Star Wars Day at Sea will be on 15 Disney Fantasy seven-night cruises sailing from Port Canaveral.

Departing Jan. 7, 21; Feb. 4, 18; March 4, 18; April 1 and 15, 2017, the western Caribbean itinerary includes Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

Departing Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 11, 25; March 11, 25; and April 8, 2017, the eastern Caribbean itinerary includes Tortola, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.06 - 1.83%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 82.04 - 2.62%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.26 - 0.89%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 42.53 - 2.25%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the two ships that were involved in the only war-time battle between oceanliners? The battle occurred off the coast of Trinidad and one of the liners was sunk.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which passenger/cruise ships had, at one time, a glass bottom to view marine life?

Answer - The Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Spirit had the glass bottom to "view" the marine life below.
courtesy of Rob Alderman


Cruise News - December 26, 2016

Fathom Receives Approval for Six Additional Voyages to Cuba
Fathom, one of Carnival Corporation's 10 global cruise brands, announced it has received Cuba approval to add stops to Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba, on six of its upcoming cruises to the Dominican Republic.

Fathom Receives Approval for Six Additional Voyages to CubTravelers will enjoy two distinct experiences during one journey. They can immerse themselves in the arts, history, culture and everyday lives of Cuban people while in Santiago de Cuba, as well as participate in social impact experiences to make a meaningful difference in the Dominican Republic.

These seven-day voyages will take place during the weeks of February 26, March 12 and 26, April 9 and 23, and May 7.

"We are delighted for our travelers to have the chance to visit such a unique and breathtaking Cuban city during such a historic time," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. "Both Santiago de Cuba and the Dominican Republic are magnificent, lush and full of beauty. While in Santiago de Cuba, travelers can dive deep into its rich and colorful history. The city served as the capital of the Spanish colony of Cuba from 1522 to 1589, and the watchtowers and cannons used in the Spanish-American War still protect and guard this port city."

Added Russell: "Then, we will sail to the Dominican Republic and experience a place we love so dearly, all during one trip. Our travelers are hungry for ways to travel deep, connect richly and enter into the heart of our local partner community in the Dominican, as we explore meaningful people-to-people experiences that are tied to the local culture for them to playfully engage during unique life-changing adventures."

This unique journey includes a full day exploring Santiago de Cuba. Travelers will enjoy discovering the sights unique to the eastern side of the island. As Cuba's second largest city, it is home to the popular festivals of Carnaval and the Fiesta del Fuego, as well as to many of the country's most famed musicians and artists and some of its most-visited historic sites. Travelers can tour the UNESCO World Heritage site of San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Castle, explore well-known areas such as San Juan Hill, Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, and the Plaza de Marte and enjoy lunch in a local Paladar.

One popular shore excursion available for purchase is a visit to Cuba's most revered Catholic shrines, Our Lady of Charity El Cobre Church. There, travelers learn the story of the boys who claimed to see the Blessed Virgin Mary and then spread the word of special favors being granted through the intercession of Our Lady of Charity.

After arriving in the early evening in the Dominican, travelers will have one and a half days to address the areas of economic, educational and environmental opportunities by participating alongside locals in meaningful activities like planting trees, helping a women's cooperative produce artisan chocolates and building water filters for Dominican homes. Their playful and engaging impact adventure will create new possibilities, while finding meaning, hope, grounded perspective and new ways to engage within communities and enrich their daily lives back home.

The new itinerary includes:

Sunday – Depart from Port Miami at 4:30 p.m. ET
Monday – At sea
Tuesday – In Santiago de Cuba from 9 a.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET
Wednesday – Arrive in the Dominican Republic at 7 p.m. ET
Thursday – In the Dominican Republic
Friday – Depart the Dominican Republic at 1 p.m. ET
Saturday – At sea
Sunday – Arrive in Port Miami at 7:30 a.m. ET

Onboard the intimate, premium and well-appointed Adonia, travelers are accommodated with amenities of a modern hotel and convenience of unpacking their suitcases just once, with dining, localized entertainment and specially designed programs about Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Norwegian Cruise Line Announces 2018 and 2019 Deployment
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced its summer 2018 and fall/winter 2018/19 itineraries, featuring exciting new opportunities for guests to set sail to their dream destinations, while unpacking just once and enjoying the most free and flexible cruising experience at sea. Norwegian’s 2018/2019 deployment spans across the globe, with sailings journeying to the warm waters of the Caribbean, the adventure-filled coasts of South America, the awe-inspiring glaciers of Alaska, Norway and beyond. The new itineraries are on sale now for all guests.

Alaska

The brand-new Norwegian Bliss, arriving in June 2018, will lead Norwegian’s 2018 Alaska fleetIn summer 2018, Norwegian will once again offer guests the opportunity to sail through the glacier-filled waters and gaze upon the snowy mountain-tops of Alaska on three unique ships, the youngest fleet sailing to the region. The brand-new Norwegian Bliss, arriving in June 2018, will lead Norwegian’s 2018 Alaska fleet with her inaugural season to the region, offering seven-day voyages departing each Saturday from Seattle. The largest and most innovative ship to sail to Alaska, Norwegian Bliss will be the first cruise ship custom-built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience and will be the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to make its debut in Seattle*. Following an extensive renovation in 2017 as a part of the Norwegian Edge program, Norwegian Pearl will sail seven-day Glacier Bay Alaska cruises from Seattle departing on Sundays. Rounding out the Alaska fleet, Norwegian Sun will return to Vancouver and Seward to offer her incredibly popular northbound and southbound seven-day Alaska highlights voyages, offering guests the opportunity to combine back-to-back sailings for an immersive 14-day roundtrip cruise.

Europe

Guest sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line can immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and flavors of Europe with five ships based in the region in summer 2018. Norwegian Breakaway will depart her New York homeport on April 15 for the first time since her inaugural season in 2013 for a 12-day transatlantic voyage to London (Southampton). Following her arrival in Europe, Norwegian Breakaway will undergo enhancements in dry dock and then journey to her new seasonal homeport of Copenhagen, where she will sail nine-day Scandinavia & Russia cruises through the summer season. Norwegian Jade will return to Europe in summer 2018 and sail a series of Norway, Iceland, and North Cape cruises from London (Southampton) and Hamburg, showcasing the spectacular Norwegian fjords, along with British Isles cruises on select dates. Norwegian Spirit will return as well, sailing longer 10-day Western Mediterranean and 11-day Eastern Mediterranean & Adriatic cruises from Civitavecchia. Norwegian Star will reposition from the West Coast to Venice, sailing a series of seven-day Greek Isles and Adriatic & Greece cruises from The Floating City. Norwegian Epic, which received ship wide enhancements earlier this year during an extensive dry dock, will once again sail seven-day Western Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona and Civitavecchia, showcasing the best of Italy, France and Spain.

In winter 2018/2019, Norwegian Spirit will set sail from Barcelona to the Canary Islands & Morocco, on a series of 10- and 11-day cruises that will bring guests looking to escape winter weather to the exotic bazaars of Northern Africa and Tenerife, which boasts the world’s third largest volcano and the highest elevation in all of Spain.

Bermuda

Norwegian will continue its tradition of sailing from both New York City and Boston to the pink sand beaches of Bermuda between April and September 2018. Norwegian’s newest ship, Norwegian Escape, will reposition for the first time since she was christened in 2015, and will sail from New York City to Bermuda on seven-day cruises to every Sunday, offering NY-area guests a new ship to enjoy, featuring Norwegian’s first brew pub at sea, the Tony-award winning After Midnight and critically-acclaimed For the Record: The Brat Pack, along with two restaurants from Iron Chef Jose Garces and The Cellars, a Michael Mondavi Family Wine bar. Norwegian Dawn, essentially a new ship after bow to stern enhancements this year, will sail seven-day cruises from Boston to Bermuda, departing every Friday.

Bahamas & Florida

In summer 2018, Norwegian Gem will set sail for the Bahamas and Florida each Saturday from New York City, bringing guests the best of beaches, theme parks and sunshine. Norwegian Sky will continue to sail three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Miami year-round, providing guests a private island escape to Great Stirrup Cay, which is currently undergoing enhancements that include a luxury lagoon area for Haven guests, along with enhanced facilities, premium cabana furnishings and more family-friendly amenities.

In winter 2018/2019, Norwegian Escape will remain in New York, and bring guests to the tropical beaches of the Bahamas & Florida on seven-day cruises. Norwegian Breakaway will return to New York from Europe and will also sail seven-day Bahamas & Florida cruises from Manhattan during winter 2018/2019.

Caribbean

Guests can set sail to the Caribbean on seven Norwegian ships in 2018 & 2019, sailing from convenient departure ports including New York, Boston, Port Canaveral, San Juan, Miami, New Orleans and Tampa. PFrom December 2018 - February 2019, Norwegian Escape will set sail from New York on extended 12- and 14-day Southern Caribbean cruises, as well as 14-day Western Caribbean cruises, which will include a call at Harvest Caye, Belize’s newest resort-style port of call featuring a cruise ship pier for easy access, seven acre white sand beach and 15,000 square foot pool, among other eco-friendly adventures. Norwegian Breakaway will also sail 10- and 11-day Eastern Caribbean cruises from New York, for a sunshine-filled extended getaway including calls in the Virgin Islands during the heart of winter. New for 2018, guests cruising from New England can set sail to the Caribbean from Boston on Norwegian Dawn for a 14-day Eastern Caribbean cruise in October 2018.

Norwegian Gem will reposition to New Orleans, sailing to the Western Caribbean on seven-, 10- and 11-day cruises from the Crescent City. Guests sailing from Miami in winter 2018 can cruise to the Western Caribbean on Norwegian Getaway, which will sail seven-day cruises that will also include a call to Harvest Caye. Norwegian Pearl will homeport in Tampa during winter 2018, sailing seven-day cruises to the Western Caribbean.

Norwegian Dawn will seasonally homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico during the winter 2018/2019 season, sailing to the heart of the Southern Caribbean on seven-, 10- and 11-day cruises, with calls in Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and more. Guests can also sail to the Southern Caribbean from Miami on Norwegian Jade, on a 10-day cruise on select dates from November 2018 – April 2019.

Norwegian Epic will again return to Port Canaveral in fall 2018, sailing alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, along with select longer 10- and 11-day Western Caribbean cruises from November 2018 – January 2019 that will include a call at Harvest Caye. Guests who wish to visit Norwegian’s private island Great Stirrup Cay can do so from Port Canaveral in March 2019, as Norwegian Epic will also offer a four-day Bahamas cruise from Port Canaveral and a five-day Western Caribbean cruise that calls in Cozumel and Great Stirrup Cay.

Canada & New England

Norwegian will offer guests the opportunity for prime “leaf peeping” in Canada & New England on three vessels in fall 2018. Norwegian Escape will be the company’s largest vessel to bring guests on spectacular fall foliage cruises, sailing seven-day Canada & New England cruises from New York on select dates in September 2018. For those looking for a summer cruise to the Pinetree State and Great White North, Norwegian Gem will also sail north from the Big Apple in June 2018 on two seven-day cruises, calling in Maine, St. John and Halifax. For those guests looking to explore Canada & New England further, Norwegian Gem will sail extended 10-day cruises from New York that include an overnight in Québec City, while Norwegian Dawn will sail a series of northbound and southbound seven-day cruises between Boston and Quebec, offering the opportunity to combine for the ultimate fall getaway with a 14-day roundtrip cruises.

Hawaii

The recently-refurbished Pride of America will continue to sail her very popular seven-day Hawaii itinerary departing from Honolulu every Saturday through May 2019. Offering more than 100 hours of in-port sight-seeing time, the only ship to sail the islands features an itinerary with calls that include an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawai`i; Kona, Hawai`i; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kaua`i; and an afternoon cruise past the breathtaking Nãpali Coast.

Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera

A true bucket-list experience, Norwegian will offer one-way and roundtrip Panama Canal cruises on three ships in 2018/2019. Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Pearl will sail 11-day and 14-day roundtrip canal cruises from Tampa and Miami in 2018/2019, providing guests with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the seven wonders of the modern world. For guests looking for an extended Panama Canal cruise, they can embark Norwegian Star from either Miami or Los Angeles during select dates in January – March 2019 for a 14-day one way cruise that includes a day-time transit of the canal. Norwegian Pearl will also sail a one-way 15-day Panama Canal cruise from LA to Tampa in October 2018.

West coast guests looking for a sun and fun cruise can embark on a seven-day Mexican Riviera sailing from Los Angeles on select dates in December 2018 and March 2019 that features calls in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas.

South America

Norwegian Sun will once again return to South America, sailing a series of alternating westbound and eastbound 14-day itineraries between Valparaiso, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina in Winter 2018/2019, featuring a sail around Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego's splendid fjords.

Only Norwegian allows guests to visit the destinations of their dreams and invites guests to Feel Free to enjoy premium entertainment, action-packed adventure, a wide variety of dining options and the freedom to do it all or absolutely nothing, all on their own timetable.

Cunard Showcases Time, Space and a Life Less Ordinary with new Brand Film
Luxury British cruise line, Cunard, has today revealed its new brand film to support its 2017 booking campaign - Everything you wanted, nothing you expected’. Stylishly taking viewers through the possibilities and experiences available on its luxurious voyages, the film highlights three key themes; time, space and a life less ordinary, to elevate the experience of cruising with Cunard.

Fathom Receives Approval for Six Additional Voyages to CubMShot over seven days by creative agency Alpha Century and launching online on December 21, the film transports viewers through a sensorial tour of the iconic Queen Mary 2. Following the journey of 12 actual Cunard guests as they travel between Southampton and New York City as they cross the Atlantic on Cunard’s Transatlantic Crossing, it highlights the much-loved traditions and new pursuits available to Cunard cruisers and challenging common misconceptions with its vast array of experiences.

“It was immediately clear to us that the experiences and atmospheres available throughout the remastered Queen Mary 2 needed little or no embellishment,” said Barnaby Girling, Executive Creative Director, Alpha Century. “The variety, scale and sheer visual impact created by Cunard allowed us to essentially shoot the reality of transatlantic crossing and then amplify it with immersive sound design."

Cunard’s new brand film can be viewed here.

MSC Cruises Celebrates One Year Countdown To Revolutionary MSC Seaside
Today marks the official one-year countdown to the arrival of MSC Seaside in Miami, and MSC Cruises — the Swiss-based world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa — is marking the occasion with remarkable savings and value-adds for travelers.

Fathom Receives Approval for Six Additional Voyages to CubMSC Seaside, the most anticipated ship coming to Miami in 2017, is the first of up to three MSC Cruises next-generation “Seaside” class of cruise ships and is set to arrive in the U.S. in December 2017. With an ultramodern and innovative “condo-on-the-beach” design, the ship has been crafted specifically for warm weather, offering sun worshippers one of the highest ratios of outdoor space at sea. She will sail from Miami to the Caribbean year-round and bring guests closer to the sea than ever before with a 360° outdoor promenade including a variety of outdoor restaurants and bars.

On board MSC Seaside, guests will relish a unique vacation experience with world-class entertainment in a 934-seat theater offering four performances each night; inspired gourmet dining at 11 different venues, including a Pan-Asian specialty restaurant created in partnership with celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi; endless activities for all ages featuring two of the longest zip lines at sea and one of the most interactive waterparks at sea with slideboarding technology; and an enhanced MSC Yacht Club boasting a private sun deck and restaurant, 24-hour butler service and a panoramic top sail lounge.

Following the first ship’s delivery from the shipyard, MSC Seaside will make her way to Miami for MSC Cruises’ first ever christening ceremony in the U.S. to take place in late 2017.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.03 + 3.33%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.25 + 2.06%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.24 - 1.32%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 43.51 + 1.05%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which passenger/cruise ships had, at one time, a glass bottom to view marine life?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which liner featured a lounge called the "Boat 'n' Bottle Bar"?

Answer - The Liner with the Boat 'n' Bottle Bar was the American Export Lines 'Constitution.
courtesy of Pete Teland


Cruise News - December 19, 2016

Carnival Corporation Reports Record Full Year Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc announced U.S. GAAP net income for the full year 2016 of $2.8 billion, or $3.72 diluted EPS, compared to $1.8 billion, or $2.26 diluted EPS, for the prior year. Full year 2016 adjusted net income of $2.6 billion, or $3.45 adjusted EPS, was higher than adjusted net income of $2.1 billion, or $2.70 adjusted EPS, for the full year 2015. Adjusted net income excludes unrealized gains and losses on fuel derivatives and other items, totaling $199 million in gains for the full year 2016 and $349 million of losses for the full year 2015. Revenues for the full year 2016 were $16.4 billion, $0.7 billion higher than the $15.7 billion in the prior year.

Carnival Corporation Reports Record Full Year EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "We achieved the most profitable year in our company's history as well as record fourth quarter earnings. The continued execution of our core strategy to drive consumer demand in excess of measured capacity growth, contain costs and leverage our industry-leading scale resulted in our third consecutive year of significantly higher earnings and return on invested capital. The delivery of over $5 billion in cash from operations for our shareholders enabled increased dividend distributions reaching $1 billion and the investment of over $2.3 billion in the repurchase of Carnival Corporation stock. This continued strong performance is a credit to the outstanding contributions of our 120,000 employees worldwide who work every day to exceed our guests' expectations and our thousands of travel agent partners around the globe whose support is crucial to our success."

Key information for the fourth quarter 2016 compared to the prior year:

• U.S. GAAP net income for 4Q 2016 of $609 million, or $0.83 diluted EPS, compared to $270 million, or $0.35 diluted EPS, for the prior year. On an adjusted basis, 4Q 2016 net income of $491 million, or $0.67 EPS, was higher than net income of $389 million, or $0.50 EPS, for the prior year. Adjusted net income excludes unrealized gains and losses on fuel derivatives and other items, totaling $118 million in gains for the 4Q 2016 and $119 million of losses for 4Q 2015.

• Gross revenue yields (revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 1.6 percent. In constant currency, net revenue yields increased 4.1 percent for 4Q 2016, better than September guidance of up approximately 3 percent.

• Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD increased 0.2 percent. In constant currency, net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 1.0 percent, in line with September guidance of up approximately 1 percent.

• Changes in fuel prices (including realized fuel derivative losses) and currency exchange rates decreased earnings by $0.04 per share versus the prior year.

Highlights during the fourth quarter included the U.S. debut of Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Vista, featuring a concert for Operation Homefront military families by country music superstar Carrie Underwood and the ship's naming ceremony with godmother Deshauna Barber, the first woman serving in the U.S. military to hold the Miss USA title. Holland America's Koningsdam also made its North American debut in November while Seabourn took delivery of Seabourn Encore, setting new standards for ultra-luxury cruising.

During the quarter, Carnival Corporation also signed a memorandum of agreement with Meyer Werft for three new 180,000-ton cruise ships that will be powered by liquefied natural gas, the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel. Two of the ships are for Carnival Cruise Line and are scheduled for delivery in 2020 and 2022. The third ship is designated for P&O Cruises (UK) and is scheduled for delivery in 2020. Carnival said that it also signed an agreement with Shell to begin fueling its LNG-powered ships, starting with AIDA and Costa ships scheduled to launch in 2019.

Three new original TV series created by Carnival Corporation began airing on Saturday mornings in October on ABC, NBC and the CW in the U.S. The shows are designed to showcase all 10 of the company's cruise brands while highlighting ocean travel as a means to experience global destinations and learn about the world and other cultures.

2017 Outlook - At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the first three quarters of 2017 are well ahead of the prior year at considerably higher prices. Since September, both booking volumes and prices for the first three quarters of 2017 have been running well ahead of the prior year.

Donald commented, "We enjoyed strong momentum in booking patterns throughout 2016 and therefore are in a stronger booked position entering the new year at higher prices as a result of our ongoing efforts to increase consideration and demand for our brands."

Based on current booking trends, Carnival said that it expects full year 2017 net revenue yields in constant currency to be up approximately 2.5 percent compared to the prior year. Carnival said that it expects full year net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD in constant currency to be up approximately 1.0 percent compared to the prior year.

As a result of higher fuel prices, forecasted fuel costs for the full year 2017 are expected to increase approximately $200 million (fuel price impact only) compared to the prior year, net of realized fuel derivatives, reducing earnings by $0.27 per share. In addition, unfavorable movements in currency exchange rates are forecasted to reduce earnings by a further $0.16 per share.

Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it expects full year 2017 adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $3.30 to $3.60, compared to 2016 adjusted earnings per share of $3.45.

Donald added, "We are anticipating another solid year of operational improvement in 2017. Despite the unusual and significant impact of fuel and currency working against us simultaneously, the underlying strength in our fundamental business leaves us well positioned to achieve sustained double digit return on invested capital and to create continued value for our shareholders."

First Quarter 2017 Outlook - First quarter constant currency net revenue yields are expected to be up approximately 1.5 to 2.5 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD in constant currency for the first quarter of 2017 are expected to be higher by approximately 1.5 to 2.5 percent compared to the prior year. Changes in fuel prices (including realized fuel derivatives) and changes in currency exchange rates compared to prior year are expected to decrease earnings by $0.13 per share. Based on the above factors, Carnival said that it expects adjusted earnings per share for the first quarter 2017 to be in the range of $0.31 to $0.35 versus 2016 adjusted earnings per share of $0.39.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Fourth Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its fourth ship – the 930-passenger Viking Sun – was "floated out," marking the major construction milestone, and the first time that the new ship touches water. The traditional ceremony took place on December 15 at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard. Viking Sun will debut in late 2017 and will be marketed to travelers in North America, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The ship will begin her maiden season sailing voyages to Cuba and the Caribbean, before embarking on a 141-day World Cruise that spans 5 continents, 35 countries and 66 ports.

The fourth ship from Viking Ocean Cruises, the 930-passenger Viking Sun, is A float out ceremony is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. Viking Sun's float out began at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, and in keeping with maritime tradition, a madrina – a special woman of honor – assisted with the ceremony, first welding coins under the ship mast. As Viking Sun will be the company's first ocean ship to call on China, Mrs. Yi Lou, Vice President of China Merchant Bank Financial Leasing (CMBFL), served as Viking Sun's madrina. She welded commemorative coins representing her birth year, as well as the birth years of her parents. A special coin, dated 1911, was also welded to represent mother Ragnhild "Mamsen" Hagen, the mother of Viking's Chairman and the woman after whom the onboard Norwegian deli Mamsen's is named. Mrs. Lou then cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship's building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Sun afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

"It is always a proud moment for the entire Viking family when a new ship meets water for the first time," Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen said at the ceremony. "CMBFL is an important partner, and we wanted to honor our relationship by naming one of their executives as madrina to our newest ship."

Viking's Ocean Ships

Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. Viking Sun is the fourth of six ocean cruise ships on order and will be delivered in late 2017. Viking will launch Viking Spirit in 2018 and the remaining, yet-to-be-named ship in 2020. Classified by Cruise Critic as "small ships," Viking's ocean fleet features understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design. In its debut season Viking Star was awarded with the cruise industry's highest honors, including being named Best New Ocean Ship and scoring a 5-star rating by the editors of Cruise Critic, as well as receiving the highest rating in the mid-size ship category in Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016. Designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships, Viking's ocean ships feature:

• All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. Veranda Stateroom, all with private verandas and premium amenities that include king-size beds with luxury linens, large showers, luxury toiletries, heated bathroom floors and large interactive flat-screen LCD TVs with movies-on-demand.

• Explorer Suites: The ship features 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wraparound private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.

• Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable roof permitting any-season swimming, the ship features a first-of-its-kind glass-backed Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination.

• LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking's Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind — from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 named it one of the "5 best cruise ship spas."

• Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's: Share a cocktail with friends. Linger over a Norwegian breakfast and a nautical history book. The Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's gourmet deli are thoughtful spaces located at the bow and designed in the Scandinavian spirit, for complete relaxation and for marveling at sweeping views through double-height windows.

• The Wintergarden: Guests looking for serenity will find it in the Wintergarden. In this elegant space, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood – an homage to Norse mythology and Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life.

• Dining Choices: Viking's ships offer multiple restaurant locations and food choices — from fine dining in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and the widest choice of culinary options, and the World Café, which serves international fare and regional specialties — to intimate dining experiences at The Chef's Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu complete with wine pairings, and Manfredi's, which features freshly prepared pastas and Italian favorites. Additionally, The Kitchen Table focuses on regional dishes from market to table; the Pool Grill specializes in gourmet burgers; afternoon tea and scones are available in the Wintergarden; and Mamsen's serves Norwegian deli-style fare. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking's ships offer the most al fresco dining at sea.

• Enriching Entertainment: Connecting guests to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking in creating "the thinking person's cruise." Instead of casinos and water slides, guests are offered Viking's Culture Curriculum including: world-class lectures on history and art; tasting of vintage wines from their destinations; restaurant menus inspired by local cuisine; informative port talks; enriching Destination Performances featuring folkloric shows and musicians playing regional and classical music; an onboard cooking school allowing guests to learn how to prepare local specialties.

• Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking's ships feature energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull and bow for maximum fuel efficiency and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.

New 133,500-Ton Vista Class Ship To Join Carnival Cruise Line Fleet In 2019
A new 133,500-ton cruise ship, which will be the third vessel in the company's Vista class series, will join the Carnival Cruise Line fleet in late 2019. The ship, under contract with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, was originally designated for the P&O Cruises Australia brand. In conjunction with this change, Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Splendor will be transferred to P&O Cruises Australia in late 2019.

New 133,500-Ton Vista Class Ship To Join Carnival Cruise Line Fleet In 2019The ship will offer many of Carnival's most popular guest features, a wide range of accommodation types and a number of new innovations unique to this vessel. The ship's name, homeport and itinerary details will be announced at a later date.

"We are truly thrilled to have another Vista class ship joining our fleet," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Carnival Vista, which was named the best new ship of 2016 in the Cruise Critic Editors Picks awards, has proven to be the most innovative and popular ship we've ever introduced. Consumer, travel agent and media reaction to the Vista class design has been extraordinary and we are elated to have two additional ships in this spectacular series now joining our fleet – Carnival Horizon, which is scheduled to be delivered in March 2018, and now a third in 2019."

Duffy added that the introduction of these ships to the Carnival fleet provides the opportunity to offer the Vista class experience from a variety of homeports in addition to creating exciting new itinerary options across the balance of the Carnival Cruise Line fleet as this additional capacity is integrated into the deployment mix.

Holland America Line Introduces 'Explorations Central'
Holland America Line is amplifying its destination immersion experiences with the launch of Explorations Central, or EXC, as it will be called. The multifaceted EXC experience combines a wide array of indispensable travel resources with enrichment opportunities for guests that make their travel experience more engaging, vivid and meaningful.

Holland America Line Introduces Explorations CentralEXC will also feature the transformation of the Crow's Nest on some ships to create a newly named venue, Explorations Central, as a comprehensive resource and engagement center. Programming for EXC begins in early 2017 and will roll out across the entire fleet by the end of the year. The EXC shipboard center will debut aboard ms Westerdam in April 2017 following a scheduled dry dock and is scheduled to expand across the rest of the fleet through 2018.

"Explorations Central is revolutionizing the way we deliver destinations to our guests, and it's going to profoundly change how our guests are immersed in the history, culture and cuisine of the places we visit," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "Those who see the world better understand the world; and when we better understand the world we can gain insights into ourselves and personally experience the transformative effects of travel. EXC is going to show our guests the world in a whole new way and enable them to engage in truly meaningful experiences."

As the centerpiece for interactive discovery, Explorations Central, in the space currently occupied by the Crow's Nest, will be a hub of information redefining the way Holland America Line guests experience each destination. Through EXC, guests will be able to relax and immerse themselves, whether collecting information about a port or indulging in a cup of espresso or Sudoku at the coffee bar.

In-depth content will showcase digital storytelling and interactive video experiences on subjects ranging from travel and food to the arts. In an industry first, EXC will feature a virtual ship's bridge where real-time data from the ship's actual bridge reveals the cruise experience to guests from a unique vantage point.

Also being introduced is a dedicated EXC Team that will bring local culture and history onboard with customized guidance for each destination. Guests can ask advice from the EXC Guides about the best tours, most popular sites and where to go to feel like a local so each destination can be explored to its fullest. These specially trained experts shape the story of each journey by providing informative talks, fielding questions and hosting local visitors in engaging encounters with guests.

EXC Talks by the EXC Guides bring each locale to life by digging deeper, beyond facts and figures. Guests will learn some of the local customs, hear interesting tales and gain extensive insight into each port of call.

Through EXC Encounters, local cultural representatives come on board before the ship reaches the next destination to build anticipation for the adventures that await. Guests might learn how to play the steel drums from a Trinidadian, make a flower lei with a native Hawaiian or create a sense of balance and serenity every morning in a class led by a master tai chi instructor. EXC Encounters also include informal small-group gatherings hosted by the EXC Guides. These feature language and cultural etiquette lessons, hands-on discovery of local items and products, participatory programs covering music and dance and storytelling sessions.

To ensure guests are prepared to go ashore, online EXC Port Guides using tips and information from AFAR Media provide exclusive handbooks for each destination. Guests can create a personalized journey based on their interests in a variety of subjects. For guests who enjoy exploring on their own, printed EXC Port Maps present a simple view of the best each port has to offer by highlighting the key points in each port that are easily reachable during the stay in port. Tips and suggestions will be included from shipboard crew who have visited the port several times before.

Completing the new on-board offerings, stateroom televisions also become a portal to the world through the EXC Channel featuring a selection of curated films, documentaries and TV shows exploring destinations on the ship's itinerary.

Fincantieri Selects IBM Cloud to Meet Growing International Demand for more Efficient Shipbuilding
IBM today announced that Fincantieri, one of the world's largest shipbuilding groups and number one by diversification and innovation is adopting a hybrid cloud solution from IBM to improve the efficiency of designing, building and deploying new vessels in response to the growing global demand for shipbuilding.

Fincantieri Selects IBM Cloud to Meet Growing International Demand for more Efficient ShipbuildingAccording to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), demand for cruising has increased 68 percent over the last 10 years, helping the global cruise industry generate revenues of 37.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2014 – a figure that is expected to grow to approximately $39.6 billion by the end of 2016.

Faced with rapidly growing international demand for cruise as well as naval vessels, Fincantieri needed a modern and global IT infrastructure to manage its new Integrated Ship Design and Manufacturing system, which manages the process of designing, fabricating and deploying ships. This capital-intensive and time-sensitive process also required rapid provisioning capabilities, high elasticity and security.

With more than 50 cloud data centers worldwide – including one in Milan – and expertise in managing enterprise cloud services, IBM will provide Fincantieri with a modern IT infrastructure to advance Fincantieri's global growth goals.

"Fincantieri has always considered technological innovation of products and processes as a way of guaranteeing the company's high standard of excellence," said Gianluca Zanutto, CIO of Fincantieri. "When we needed to redesign our IT infrastructure for the future, we trusted IBM Cloud to deliver the highly secure and scalable solution we need to keep up with the sharp growth and complexity of the shipbuilding industry."

Fincantieri selected IBM Cloud out of a crowded field of competitors to create a global hybrid cloud infrastructure. The hybrid infrastructure connects 13 Fincantieri private distributed data centers with the IBM Cloud data center in Milan. The result is a hybrid cloud for high-availability, fault tolerance and secure enterprise service levels.

In addition to providing a new flexible and scalable global IT footprint for the shipbuilding world of today, Fincantieri is looking to IBM for a cloud solution built for the future. The company is mission-driven to stay competitive in ship evolution, yard efficiency and the ability to provide advanced services to ship owners as the industry evolves. Industry researchers, such as Roland Berger and Confindustria, consider cloud computing an essential building block of the Internet of Things, as well as the "smart factory" of Industry 4.0 transformations. By adopting the IBM Cloud, Fincantieri is well positioned for the 4.0 transformation at a global scale.

"IBM's global network of cloud data centers enables Fincantieri to meet the growing demand of shipbuilding. We will also help the company easily integrate other subsidiaries and new acquisitions as it continues to expand the company's worldwide footprint," said Stefano Rebattoni, General Manager Global Technology Services, IBM Italy. "Fincantieri is leveraging IBM's hybrid cloud model in an innovative manner to help its digital transformation and usher in a new era of scalability and flexibility, through a high-secure and reliable IT infrastructure"

Carnival Cruise Line names Taylor Bux Vice President of Marketing Services
Carnival Cruise Line has appointed Taylor Bux vice president of marketing services. In this capacity, he is responsible for consumer public relations, brand experience and grassroots marketing, social media and branded content as well as advertising and creative services. Bux will report directly to Kathy Mayor, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Line.

Carnival Cruise Line names Taylor Bux Vice President of Marketing ServicesBux joins Carnival from Old Navy/Gap, Inc. where he served as global director of digital and social media marketing. In that role, he was responsible for all digital, social and mobile marketing for the Old Navy brand as well as data and analytics and online brand communications.

Prior to Old Navy, Bux was a senior consultant at Hong Kong-based investment firm Ward Ferry, client services director in China for digital ad agency Razorfish, founder and general manager of social media marketing agency One9ninety, director of social media marketing in China for global digital agency Lowe Profero, and held senior positions in New York and Shanghai at global public relations agency Ketchum.

“Taylor brings an exciting wealth of experience in a multitude of marketing disciplines to his new role and will be a tremendous asset to the Carnival marketing function,” said Mayor.

Bux holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Davidson College. He has relocated from San Francisco to South Florida for his new role.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 51.32 - 1.55%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 82.55 - 3.52%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.27 + 1.34%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 43.06 - 2.11%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which liner featured a lounge called the "Boat 'n' Bottle Bar"?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of the first new build for Carnival Cruise Lines and what year did she enter service?

Answer - The first new build for Carnival was the Tropicale in 1981.
courtesy of Nigel Kibel


Cruise News - December 12, 2016

Royal Caribbean International Opens Sailings to Cuba
Salsa music, dominoes, Mojitos and historic Havana neighborhoods are easier to reach than ever before for guests on Royal Caribbean International. The newly revitalized Empress of the Seas will make history for the cruise line with its first visit to Cuba during a 5-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017. The ship will then reposition to Tampa offering two itineraries with calls to Havana on April 30 (7-night sailing) and May 20 (5-night sailing). These Empress of the Seas sailings are now open for sale.

Empress of the Seas will make history for the cruise line with its first visit to Cuba during a 5-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season – the cruise line's first-ever summer program from the destination – offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba. The largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States, Empress will provide vacationers with the opportunity to discover the timeless sights, sounds and culture of this island nation. Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.

Salsa music, dominoes, Mojitos and historic Havana neighborhoods are easier to reach than ever before for guests on Royal Caribbean International. The newly revitalized Empress of the Seas will make history for the cruise line with its first visit to Cuba during a 5-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017.

"Royal Caribbean is the world's most exciting adventure company, and we're thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba. As the unrivaled innovators of the cruise experience, no company is better positioned to help adventurers explore and experience this culturally rich destination," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

Guests sailing onboard Empress of the Seas and visiting Cuba can enjoy curated people-to-people experiences created to immerse vacationers in the natural beauty of Cuba, its architecture, cuisine, music and art. All cruises will be designed in accordance with current U.S. to Cuba travel regulations.

While in Cuba, guests will explore Old Havana – a UNESCO World Heritage site – some of the city's most notable squares, historic neighborhoods, a local artisan market, Havana's rum museum as well as Hemingway's former residence and favorite haunts. Local experts will immerse guests in the history, culture and people of Cuba. These authentic encounters will give guests an unforgettable taste of what has made Cuba the gem of the Caribbean.

The authentic experiences aren't limited to land. The vibrant culture will extend to Empress of the Seas, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music, guests will have a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life during the entire journey. The revitalized Empress will bring the shipboard Cuban flair together with signature amenities, such as a thrilling rock-climbing wall for adrenaline seekers; new pools and whirlpools, including an adults-only Solarium; a Vitality Spa with an extensive treatment menu; and a complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program. Empress also will offer a variety of dining options with the casual atmosphere of the Windjammer Café, family-friendly Ben and Jerry's Scoop Shop, and fine dining at Royal Caribbean's signature steakhouse Chops.

Time To Cross Havana Off Your Travel Wish List
American travelers have long imagined what it would be like to salsa, mambo and rumba the night away in Havana's many clubs or sit down for an authentic Ropa Vieja (shredded beef) and Moros y Cristianos (rice and beans). The tide has turned as Azamara Club Cruises, the boutique cruise line owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and known for its premier destination-immersive voyages allowing guests to stay longer and experience more, introduces a voyage visiting Havana, Cuba.

Two RCL lines, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises, will provide guests with travel directly to Cuba"The Azamara Quest will do a Miami, Florida roundtrip departing on March 21, 2017 for a 13-night Azaleas, Bourbon Street and Havana voyage in the Caribbean making Azamara one of the first American luxury cruise lines to visit Havana. The voyage will include visits to Key West, Florida, Tampa, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana (2 overnights), Cozumel, Mexico and an overnight stay in Havana, Cuba.

Devoted to bringing its guests to 'bucket list' destinations, Azamara is building Havana into an existing 2017 itinerary. In time, the line looks to also add additional ports of call in Cuba into several of its itineraries.

"Destination Immersion is the heartbeat of our brand as expressed by our overnight stay in Havana, Cuba. Our guests rely on our programs to provide authentic, interactive experiences that dive deep into the cultures of the destinations we visit," says Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. "We've spent years defining and refining each voyage to enable our guests to explore their favorite ports in new ways and discover hidden gems in places they've never been before. Cuba has been a destination on our radar for years and being one of the first cruise lines to bring American guests to this amazing country, is an important offering that will resonate in a real way with our loyal guests.

Azamara has developed a variety of unique land programs to bring our guests true Destination Immersion. By spending a longer amount of time in port, including staying overnight, guests will enjoy a deeper travel experience.

As part of the line's Land Discovery offerings, guests will have a selection of experiences to choose from while in Havana that will bring to life meaningful and engaging interactions with local Cuban residents. Land Discovery tour highlights in Havana will include:

• Hemingway's Havana: Explore the literary connections between Cuba and the late American novelist Ernest Hemingway on a dynamic four-hour tour that offers the chance to see where he lived, fished, dined and sipped his favorite cocktails.

• Old Havana City Sightseeing: Havana's city-center is jam-packed with timeworn fortresses, government buildings, historic squares, notable cemeteries and an artisan market. Sights include visits to Morro Castle, La Cabaña, El Capitolio and more.

• Best of Havana 8-hour Tour: Come along for a full-day, all-encompassing trip through bustling Havana, as you spend eight hours exploring the city's sprawling cemetery, notable square, artsy neighborhood, artisan market, literary connections and enjoy an authentic Cuban meal.

The line's Cuba voyage will be available for booking on Friday, December 9th 2016.

Oceania Cruises Announces Inaugural Voyages to Cuba
Oceania Cruises revealed today its first three inaugural voyages from Miami to Cuba. On December 7th, the company announced that it has received official government approval from the Republic of Cuba to operate cruises to the island beginning March 2017. The line announced it will inaugurate its calls in Cuba with one 14-day and two 10-day Caribbean cruises from Miami aboard Marina. Each of these voyages will call on the storied city of Havana with two of the voyages staying overnight and offering guests two full days in this legendary destination.

Oceania Cruises' Marina in Havana, CubaAll voyages will fully comply with existing U.S. Federal Regulations and the most recent pronouncements from the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The voyages will provide guests with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover not only the rich culture, history and natural beauty found throughout Cuba, but more importantly experience the warmth and hospitality of its people.

"We are tremendously excited to have received approval by Cuban authorities to offer cruises to Cuba from the United States aboard our acclaimed Marina. I believe there is no better way to experience the unique culture, beauty and diversity of Cuba than by cruise," stated Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, the parent company of Oceania Cruises. "As a Cuban-American and founder of Oceania Cruises, I am incredibly proud that Marina will be the first in our fleet to cruise to Cuba. Not only was Marina the first ship to be purpose-built for the Oceania Cruises brand, she showcases millions of dollars' worth of Cuban-American art, making our inaugural voyages to Cuba even more special."

In Havana, guests will have a selection of expertly crafted shore excursions to choose from, all of which offer an authentic Cuban experience that explores the people, music, art, history and culture of the island in compliance with OFAC regulations. To provide guests with even greater insights into Cuba and its people, guest scholars and expert lecturers on board the ship will deliver compelling presentations about Cuba's past, present and future.

March 7, 2017 | 14 Days
Miami | Key West | Havana | Cozumel | Costa Maya | Harvest Caye | Puerto Limon | Colón | Cartagena | George Town | Miami

March 21, 2017 | 10 Days
Miami | Havana (2 Days) | Santo Tomas | Harvest Caye | Costa Maya | George Town | Miami

March 31, 2017 | 10 Days
Miami | Costa Maya | Harvest Caye | Roatan | Havana (2 Days) | Nassau | Miami

Princess Launches New Celebrations Packages
One in four guests is celebrating a special occasion with Princess Cruises and now the cruise line is making it even easier to turn “Sailabrations” into lasting memories with new packages and convenient online ordering.

Oceania Cruises' Marina in Havana, CubaWith savings of up to 25 percent off of retail prices, “Sailabration” packages are a great value and can be added by a guest through the online booking management tool, Cruise Personalizer. Now, Princess Cruises has made it easier than ever for friends and family to browse and order gifts for Princess guests via the new Princess online gifting webpage found at princess.com/gifts.

New packages such as “Pamper Me” with a day at the Lotus Spa, named the Best Spa on a Cruise Ship by Spa finder Wellness 365TM and “Breakfast Lovers” with a deluxe balcony breakfast are available for those looking to relax and recharge or celebrate the joy of mornings at sea. In addition, “For the Birthday Guy,” featuring a men’s shave in the Lotus Spa, bucket of beers and casino credit and “For the Birthday Girl,” a manicure, flowers and coffee card are sure to delight guests.

Packages built around guest favorite specialty dining and culinary offerings include “Share the Love,” with dinner for two at SHARE by Curtis Stone, a box of decadent Norman Love chocolates and champagne, as well as “Salty Sea Days,” with dinner for two and whiskey flights at the Salty Dog Gastropub.

“Celebrating any of life’s big or small occasions is even more special aboard a cruise,” said Jill Whelan, Celebrations Ambassador for Princess Cruises. “These new ‘Sailabration’ packages add special touches that help reconnect guests and offer new experiences that inspire the senses.”

Princess, named the Best Cruise Line for Romance by Cruise Critic, has also refreshed classic romance packages for guests celebrating honeymoons and anniversaries to include new experiences such as deluxe balcony breakfast or specialty dining for two.

Guests with package purchases on their bookings will receive most items directly to their stateroom on the requested delivery date, which is either embarkation or the day they specify to celebrate. They will also receive a letter from the Customer Service Manager with a summary of the package and instructions for redeeming services.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.13 + 0.97%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 85.56 + 5.56%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.24 + 0.45%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 43.99 + 8.24%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the first new build for Carnival Cruise Lines and what year did she enter service?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which ocean liner and cruise ship has the distinction of having sailed with one, two and three funnels over her long career?

Answer - The Furness-Bermuda lines was the only passanger/cruise ship to sail with one, two and three funnels during her long career. She was built in the early thirties as a three funneled liner. During WWII she served as a troopship with only two funnels. After the war she returned to service as a three funnel ship. In the early sixties she was refitted and came out as a single funnel liner. This made her look similar to her more modern sistership the Ocean Monarch.
courtesy of Larry P. MacDonald


Cruise News - December 5, 2016

Royal Caribbean Approved To Begin Cuba Service
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that the Cuban government has granted approval for the company to begin cruises to Cuba. The company said it plans to announce its first Florida-Cuba itineraries in the near future.

Two RCL lines, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises, will provide guests with travel directly to Cuba"Our guests have expressed real interest in having the opportunity to experience Cuba, and we look forward to bringing them there," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Our discussions with our travel partners indicate that Cuba is a destination that appeals to a new generation of travelers."

Two RCL lines, Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises, will provide guests with travel directly to Cuba for the purpose of providing people-to-people exchanges between guests and Cuban citizens and other travel permitted by current U.S. regulations.

The cruise itineraries will comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that permit travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in people-to-people activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Norwegian Cruise Line Brands All Receive Approval to Sail to Cuba
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today announced that it has received approval from the government of the Republic of Cuba to operate cruises to Cuba, beginning March 2017. All three of the company's brands: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will offer U.S. travelers the opportunity to visit the culturally and historically rich country on select sailings starting next year. The voyages will provide guests with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover not only the rich culture, history and natural beauty of Cuba, but more importantly experience the warmth and hospitality of its people.

he company's first cruise to Cuba will set sail from PortMiami on Oceania Cruises' Marina on March 7, 2017The company's first cruise to Cuba will set sail from PortMiami on Oceania Cruises' Marina on March 7, 2017 with select Caribbean itineraries featuring calls on Havana, including many multiple-day calls to allow guests to explore Havana and its environs. Seven Seas Mariner, of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, will call on Havana during two cruises in April 2017. Norwegian Sky will also offer a selection of four-day voyages that will overnight in Havana in May 2017.

"We are tremendously excited to have all three of our award-winning brands receive approval from the Cuban authorities to offer cruises to Cuba from the United States," said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "As a Cuban-American and founder of Oceania Cruises, I am incredibly proud that one of Oceania's vessels will be our company's first to sail to Cuba. This is truly a dream come true for me, and I cannot wait for our loyal guests to experience the sights and sounds of my hometown of Havana and get to know its rich culture and its warm and welcoming residents."

Guests sailing on all three brands will have a selection of shore excursions to choose from, all of which offer an authentic Cuban experience that explores the people, art, history and culture of the island, which are in compliance with OFAC regulations.

Full itinerary details and on sale dates for voyages that call on Cuba will be available tomorrow for Oceania Cruises, later this month for Regent Seven Seas Cruises and on December 20 for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Seabourn Takes Delivery Of Seabourn Encore
Seabourn Cruise Line took delivery of its newest all-suite vessel, Seabourn Encore, today during an official handover ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy.

Seabourn Takes Delivery Of Seabourn Encore"We have been looking forward to this day for over two years. Seabourn Encore has become a stunning ship that will set a new standard in ultra-luxury cruising," said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "I am very proud of our partnership with Fincantieri, and it has been a great pleasure to work together to transform raw materials into this incredible vessel that will make a great addition to the Seabourn fleet."

"The jewel we deliver today is the first built for Seabourn, and dry dock works for the second vessel of this new and prestigious client will start in the next few days in our shipyard in Sestri Ponente. I say this with a certain pride and a lot of satisfaction, because Seabourn represents the top range offer of the Carnival Group and Fincantieri is now identified as an absolute reference point from the market, able to offer tailor-made products to an ever wider range of customers," said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "This gratifying result became possible thanks to the strategy stubbornly followed in the last years that has allowed us to be in the best conditions to seize the opportunities offered by the market."

Guests of Seabourn Encore will be treated to the line's extraordinary levels of personalized service, with a high staff to guest ratio. The ship carries 600 guests, based on double occupancy, who reside in 300 elegantly appointed suites each with a private verandah.

Designed by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany who intended Seabourn Encore "to feel more like a luxury yacht," the 40,350-GRT vessel features modern design elements and innovations in keeping with Seabourn's reputation for understated elegance, as well as one additional deck and new expanded public areas. The ship expands and builds on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. New features include The Retreat, a sanctuary designed for guests to relax in private cabanas, with a Spa Treatment Cabana for personalized spa services.

In addition, guests will enjoy superb cuisine, including The Grill by Thomas Keller, the new signature restaurant from three-star Michelin chef Thomas Keller that was introduced on Seabourn Quest earlier this year and will be expanded to the entire Seabourn fleet. A new restaurant for Seabourn, Sushi, makes its debut as a destination for foodies, with a unique look and feel and high-quality dishes served throughout the day.

A new production show, 'An Evening with Tim Rice,' created exclusively for Seabourn in association with Belinda King Creative Productions, will open onboard Seabourn Encore in January 2017, when she sails from Singapore on her inaugural voyage. The new Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil mindful living program also debuts on Seabourn Encore in January. Both Tim Rice and Dr. Weil will sail on the inaugural voyage.

Encore will be officially christened at a ceremony in Singapore on January 7, 2017. International recording artist and world's best-selling Soprano, Sarah Brightman, will be godmother of Seabourn Encore and officially name the ship during the celebration. The vessel will then depart on its Inaugural Voyage, the 10-day Gems of the Java Sea cruise, bound for Indonesia.

Following her inaugural sailing, Seabourn Encore will move onto a 16-day Great Barrier Reef & Gold Coast and back-to-back 16-day Australia & New Zealand voyages. The ship will then reverse the earlier 10-day Gems of the Java Sea cruise to Singapore, proceed on 16-day Jewels of India & Arabia cruise to Dubai, and finish her first season with a 19-day Arabian Gems & Holy Land voyage before ending her winter season at Athens on May 5.

Royal Caribbean's 150 Central Park Introduces New Multi-course Menu
Royal Caribbean International, in partnership with James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, has introduced a new menu highlighting artisanal ingredients at 150 Central Park onboard Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. Guests can enjoy Schwartz’s simple, elegant approach to American dining with a signature cocktail, the Central Park Martini, and choose from a variety of appetizers, entrées and dessert including a tableside cheese cart ($45 cover charge, all inclusive). Set in the ship’s lush and tropical Central Park neighborhood, the restaurant showcases the Chef’s fresh, simple and pure approach to food and wine established at Miami flagship Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, with a focus on thoughtful service and the importance of details to complete the onboard dining experience.

Royal Caribbean's 150 Central Park Introduces New Multi-course MenuHighlights include:

• A straightforward multi-course which allows the guest to explore the restaurant on multiple visits and try something new each time. Selections include lobster gnocchi with carrot butter sauce, herb salad or Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart with salted caramel, spiced pecans, cranberry chutney and chantilly cream.

• A world-class cheese cart, tuna tartare or an 18-ounce tenderloin prepared tableside.

• Chef Schwartz along with Michael’s Genuine sommelier Eric Larkee has crafted a dynamic wine program that makes for an upscale and intimate gastronomic experience

Harmony of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship with a bold and unexpected lineup of thrilling experiences found nowhere else on land or at sea. Harmony combines the distinct seven-neighborhood concept that sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are known for, with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities, including imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology, such as VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. From the Ultimate Abyss, a thrilling 10-story tall slide, to unparalleled entertainment including Broadway’s hit musical Grease and high-diving, acrobatic performances in the iconic AquaTheater, world-class dining in venues ranging from Jamie’s Italian Cuisine by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to Wonderland, a unique whimsical culinary adventure for the senses; and robot bartenders, there is an adventure for guests of all ages onboard Harmony.

Holland America Line Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Private Island Half Moon Cay
In 2017, Holland America Line will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Half Moon Cay, its award-winning private island paradise in the Bahamas. To commemorate the event two decades in the making, the premium cruise line is introducing a new Lobster Shack eatery, as well as several island updates and upgrades that were in place for the first ship call in early November.

Holland America Line Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Private Island Half Moon Cay The new Lobster Shack will be permanently located near the "I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever" bar and serve fresh grilled lobster with Caribbean coconut beans n' rice and a rum-jerk butter glaze. Pineapple and Caribbean Sofrito salsas bring out the local flavors. The lobster barbecue will be available for a nominal fee, and Rum punch and other beverages also are available for purchase at the Lobster Shack.

"For the past 20 years Half Moon Cay has been the recipient of numerous accolades ranking it the best private island in the Caribbean, and it continues to be the jewel in our Caribbean itineraries," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "We are renowned for providing top destination experiences, and all of our guests will enjoy the recent enhancements on Half Moon Cay, including the Lobster Shack that is a fantastic addition to our culinary offerings."

During summer 2016, Half Moon Cay underwent several upgrades and welcomed new additions. Water sports are a central focus of any call at the idyllic island, and guests can now get out on the water with new Sunfish sailboats, Hobie catamarans, Aqua Cycle Trikes and Aqua Trax Wave Runners. These join paddleboats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel gear and more.

The private beach-side cabanas and two-story villas also received facelifts with new paint, and some new furnishings. The Grand Cabana — the ultimate private retreat on Half Moon Cay — received new décor as well.

Guests looking for a drink on the beach now have three more satellite locations, and the Captain Morgan on the Rocks bar received new furniture.

The horseback riding tours are among the most popular, and 14 additional horses and two more grazing pastures were added, while the changing rooms at the Ranch were enhanced. Many guests visit the island's Welcome Center, where new furniture adorns the facility.

For the 2016-17 Caribbean season, all cruises that sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, make a call at Half Moon Cay. Guests on the new ms Koningsdam, ms Eurodam, ms Zuiderdam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Rotterdam, ms Veendam and ms Prinsendam will be able to visit Half Moon Cay on a variety of itineraries.

Princess Cruises Introduces Best Price Guarantee on Shore Excursions
Princess Cruises today announced its Shore Excursions Best Price Guarantee is available on thousands of the award-winning tours in ports the cruise line visits worldwide. Today the program launches fleetwide and guarantees if guests find the same shore excursion elsewhere at a lower price, they will receive 110 percent of the difference in the form of non-refundable onboard credit.

Princess Cruises Introduces Best Price Guarantee on Shore Excursions"Our new Best Price Guarantee on shore excursions gives guests satisfaction that they are receiving competitive and fair pricing while enjoying an exceptional experience ashore," said Bruce Krumrine, vice president of shore excursions for Princess Cruises. "We find our guests rate their overall cruise vacation experience higher when they take our shore excursions because we handle every detail for them so they can easily explore the world and take home lifelong memories of the places they visit."

The new Best Price Guarantee is being announced to Princess guests through pre-cruise e-mails and on Princess.com and is available to guests who book their excursions with Princess pre-cruise. If guests find an equivalent shore excursion at a lower price, the request can be submitted at least seven days prior to the sailing date to shoreexcursions@princesscruises.com for review by the Shore Excursion customer service team. Within two business days, guests will be notified if their request meets the Best Price Guarantee criteria. If it does, 110 percent of the price difference will be applied in the form of a non-refundable onboard credit.

The Best Price Guarantee only applies to shore excursions that are advertised with pricing and publicly available. It applies to all shore excursions, with the exception of Asia, Southeast Asia and Japan ports, and excludes private vehicle and driver excursions in ports worldwide.

Princess Cruises was recently awarded "Best Cruise Ship Excursions" by Global Traveler Magazine and "Best Cruise Line for Shore Excursions" in the 2016 Cruise Critic Editors' Picks awards. The cruise line offers guests more than 4,000 shore excursions in 360 destinations around the globe, on more than 150 itineraries.

Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions are available as part of the cruise line's Discovery at Sea program, an exclusive partnership designed to create memorable vacation experiences for the whole family. Discovery and Animal Planet Exclusive Tours are unique tours that cannot be booked independently and are available only through Princess Cruises. Now more than 1,000 Discovery and Animal Planet tours are available worldwide.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 51.63 - 0.83%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.05 - 0.55%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.23 - 1.33%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 40.64 + 1.35%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which ocean liner and cruise ship has the distinction of having sailed with one, two and three funnels over her long career?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was first cruise ship fitted with a podded propulsion system, and what year did that ship enter service?

Answer - The first cruise ship to be fitted with a podded proplusion system was Carnival Cruise Lines' Elation (number 491), and was delivered in February 1998 from MasaYards in Helsinki, Finland.
courtesy of Steve Perry, Miami, Florida USA


Cruise News - November 28, 2016

Carnival Drops Fathom Brand
Carnival Corp. has abandoned its Fathom brand social impact cruising with the return of the Adonia to Carnival’s P&O Cruses fleet in June next year. The 704-passenger vessel has been sailing weeklong voyages to the Dominican Republic and Cuba since late April.

Carnival Dumps Fathom Brand CruisesThe Fathom name will live on through the branded experience of offering volunteer activities as shore excursions on other cruise lines. “We feel this is a strategy to evolve Fathom from a single ship to have even more of our guests experience Fathom through all of our brands,” said Carnival chief communications officer Roger Frizzell.

Fathom remains the only cruise line with permission from Cuba to sail from the U.S. at this time. Carnival has asked officials in Cuba for permission to sail there with other brands starting in June.

A Carnival Corp. spokesman said: "We have requested approval from Cuba to sail there with our other brands beginning in June 2017. We plan to continue sailing to Cuba for many years to come based on the success of our first cruises to the country which have proven to extremely successful." Tara Russell will remain president of Fathom.

The line’s main goal was to do good by “driving, over time, real meaningful change for the better in a community” and was expected to entice people who had not cruised before.

Earlier this month Carnival announced that it planned to roll out Fathom-branded shore excursions on lines that visit Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic. Frizzell said relationships with organizations on the ground there would continue and evolve.

Carnival Vista Launches Year-Round Service From PortMiami
PortMiami welcomed Carnival Cruise Line's newest, largest and most innovative ship, Carnival Vista, when it arrived yesterday to kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day cruises to the Caribbean.

Carnival Vista Launches Year-Round Service From PortMiamiTo officially welcome Carnival Vista to its Miami homeport, Carnival Vista Captain Stefano Battinelli and PortMiami Assistant Director Fred Wong participated in a traditional maritime plaque exchange prior to the ship's inaugural departure from Miami.

As the line's newest ship, Carnival Vista takes cruising to new heights, introducing groundbreaking features such as SkyRide, a suspended open-air cycling experience; the world's first IMAX Theatre on a ship; Kaleid-O-Slide, the line's first water tube slide, part of the ship's massive WaterWorks aqua park; and the RedFrog Pub & Brewery featuring the first brewery on a North American-based cruise ship.

"Miami has been our home since our company's inception in 1972 and homeporting the new Carnival Vista here not only provides consumers with a convenient homeport with renovated facilities and numerous operational enhancements but speaks volumes about our confidence in growing this important market," and said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president.

"We are thankful for Carnival Cruise Line's continued growth at PortMiami," said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. "The arrival of new and innovative cruise ships such as Carnival Vista helps solidify our place as a global hub for travel and tourism, vital to the continual growth and development of our community."

"It's an exciting day at PortMiami," said PortMiami Director/CEO Juan M. Kuryla. "There's no doubt that the arrival of the Carnival Vista, Carnival Cruise Line's newest and largest cruise ship, represents a new vacation option for passengers sailing out of the Cruise Capital of the World. We're grateful to have this opportunity, and we look forward to continue strengthening our partnership with Carnival," he added.

Carnival Vista kicked off its new schedule from PortMiami with a special six-day cruise to Grand Turk, Ocho Rios and Nassau that departed yesterday. The ship will then launch a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day cruises beginning with an eight-day voyage departing Dec. 3, 2016. Six-day cruises feature Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, while a mix of different eight-day itineraries visit some of the Caribbean's most sought-after destinations, including Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and La Romana (Dominican Republic).

The ship will also offer a combination of one-time voyages, including a five-day cruise departing Dec. 11 and seven-day voyages departing Dec. 17 and 24, 2016, that offer an exciting selection of ports including the Caribbean's newest destination, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, as well as Mahogany Bay, Grand Turk, Belize, San Juan, St. Thomas and Cozumel, depending on the itinerary.

In addition to visiting breathtaking Caribbean destinations, guests can experience all the Carnival Vista has to offer – from the colorful Havana area with tropics-inspired staterooms and suites and Family Harbor with special accommodations and a new family concierge to delicious choices like Seafood Shack and new al fresco options at the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi and Cherry On Top, featuring a mixed-to-order premium ice cream bar.

Oceanwide Expeditions Announces New Advanced Polar Vessel HONDIUS
Due to an increased demand polar cruises, Oceanwide Expeditions announced that it has commissioned the building of an innovative 180-passenger vessel. The ship, called the Hondius, will be the strongest ice-strengthened vessel in the Polar regions. It is being built in Croatia by shipbuilder Brodosplit and will be available to customers in 2019.

Oceanwide Expeditions Announces New Advanced Polar Vessel HONDIUS"We currently sail with our ice-strengthened 116-passenger vessels Plancius and Ortelius, and the Hondius will give us the opportunity to accommodate more travelers, to grow as a company, and to offer new, innovative products in the Polar regions," says Oceanwide Expeditions' CEO, Michel van Gessel. "The name Hondius follows our custom to name our ships for celebrated Dutch-Flemish cartographers who continue to inspire us as we carry on their passion for exploration and discovery."

Hondius was specially designed to support and serve Oceanwide's exploratory programs and activity-based shore excursions in the Arctic and Antarctica. It will be rated Polar Class 6, similar to the previous Finnish-Swedish ice-class notation 1A-super. A speedy zodiac embarkation is guaranteed, with two separate gangways and an indoor platform that can be used for outdoor activities such as kayaking. While Hondius is at anchor during passenger excursions, it can drift or remain in position with the support of the bow and stern thrusters. One deck on board is reserved for an observation lounge, with a separate lecture room in order to offer simultaneous or multilingual lectures and presentations.

The vessel size will be 107 meters (350 feet) long, with a breadth of 17.6 meters (58 feet). It will be equipped with two main engines for a total of 4,200 kW, generating a speed of 15 knots.

m/v Hondius will offer passengers an advanced hotel standard of quarters, as well as a variety of cabin categories, from spacious suites and superiors to twin and quadruple cabins. Guests will be accommodated in the following configurations: 1 spacious suite (cabin size 33 m2), 6 suites with balcony (cabin size: 29 m2), 8 superior cabins with balcony (cabin size: 22 m2), 19 twin deluxe cabins, (cabin size: 22 m2), 14 twin-window cabins (cabin sizes: 14 to 16 m2), 31 twin porthole cabins, 2 triple porthole cabins and 4 quadruple porthole cabins (cabin sizes of the porthole cabins vary from 13 to 16 m2).

"While traveling with Hondius, our passengers will recognize our distinctive Oceanwide approach -- a pleasant, informal atmosphere onboard, with a main focus on in-depth nature and wildlife programs and related shore activities," said Van Gessel.

Over the years, Oceanwide Expeditions has developed a variety of outdoor activities and offers a dedicated Basecamp program that highlights free activities such as camping, kayaking, shore excursions including snowshoeing, mountaineering, zodiac cruises, scuba diving, and a photography workshop.

'BBC Earth Experiences' Rolling Out Across Holland America Line Fleet
Guests on Holland America Line ships can now experience more of the world's natural wonders, test their knowledge of our planet and participate in some family-friendly competition through the cruise line's exclusive partnership with BBC Earth. These unique performances and interactive programs currently are available on ms Koningsdam, ms Noordam, ms Rotterdam, ms Oosterdam, ms Zuiderdam and ms Eurodam and will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet (except ms Prinsendam) by March 2017.

BBC Earth Experiences Rolling Out Across Holland America Line FleetThe new offerings immerse guests in BBC Earth's award-winning, world-class captivating experiences. A highlight is "Frozen Planet Live," a groundbreaking concert based on the BBC Earth "Frozen Planet" television series. "Frozen Planet Live," on each ship's main stage, features live musicians playing a specially orchestrated musical score by award-winning composer George Fenton as the images unfold on screen. Guests are taken on an emotional and evocative journey into the wilderness of the polar regions, where life thrives in the most extraordinary conditions. Additional activities include "Inside Earth" documentary films, gameshows, trivia, children's activities and BBC Earth feature cruises.

"Since announcing the BBC Earth partnership, we have been looking forward to launching the programming on board; and now that it's rolling out across the fleet it's even more engaging and visually powerful than we imagined," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "Our guests are destination seekers with a desire to learn more and know more when they are cruising with us. 'BBC Earth Experiences' bring them to the most remote corners of the world in an incredibly innovative way."

Guests wanting to test their knowledge can participate in the fun and entertaining "What on Earth!" family game show, bringing the entire world of BBC Earth to life in a new format. This show uncovers all that's weird, wonderful and obscure in our natural world. Teams compete against each other on the main stage, guessing the location in "Where on Earth!", uncovering content hidden beneath puzzles in "What on Earth!", and working out which animal makes that sound in "Who on Earth!" "Trivia from Earth" is an informal, team-based competitive quiz that allows guests to show off their natural history knowledge and provides guests with entertaining new facts.

Junior cruisers can get in on the adventure as well with BBC Earth's countdown fact shows, specially developed "BBC Earth for Club HAL Tweens." Kids will discover amazing facts about animals, dinosaurs and sea creatures.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.06 + 1.56%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.50 - 1.42%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.26 - 0.44%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 40.01 + 1.29%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was first cruise ship fitted with a podded propulsion system, and what year did that ship enter service?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Before selecting the former France for conversion into the cruise ship Norway, NCL examined three other 900 ft + former liners. Name at least two of the three former liners they did not select.

Answer - NCL looked at, but did not pick RAFFAELLO and MICHELANGELO recently retired from the Italian Line. They also looked at the UNITED STATES.
courtesy of Dirk vanHeiningen


Cruise News - November 21, 2016

With a Single Cut of Steel, Celebrity Cruises has the Edge
The next generation of cruise ships moves from concept to construction today, as the first piece of steel is cut at the STX France shipyard for Celebrity Cruises' newest — and boldest — ship.

Celebrity Cruises continues to be a trailblazer in modern luxury travel as President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo cuts the first piece of steel for Celebrity Edge, the first ship of its class.The ship will be called "Celebrity Edge," befitting the many daring design advances and innovations of Celebrity's first new ship class since 2008. The modern luxury cruise line is also announcing today the name of Edge's sister ship, "Celebrity Beyond," signaling the incredible experience guests can expect onboard Celebrity Edge and the entire Edge Class, changing the way travelers see the world.

"Edge Class is destined to be a trailblazer in modern luxury travel," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. "The new ships will be on the cutting edge of innovation and the leading edge of design, so the ship names are spot on and offer a sense of how Celebrity Cruises is looking into the future."

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity's President and CEO, said: "We set the bar high for the architects and designers on Edge class, and we were rewarded with a stunning design. Cutting the ship's first piece of steel is the traditional first step in the shipbuilding process, and I'm excited to see our dreams turn into reality over the next 24 months."

She added: "We are excited to reveal more details soon, and travelers, trade partners and enthusiasts alike will not be disappointed — this ship is going to be amazing."

Laurent Castaing, General Manager STX France said: "Everyone involved in Edge has embraced the challenge of making this new class of ships dramatic and special, and we take great pride in helping Celebrity Cruises take such a remarkable step forward in ship design."

The company expects delivery of Celebrity Edge in Fall 2018. Celebrity Beyond is scheduled for delivery in Spring 2020, and the third and fourth Edge Class ships in Fall 2021 and Fall 2022, respectively.

Carnival Valor to Move to Galveston, Carnival Liberty to be Based in Port Canaveral Beginning January 2017
The cruise ship Carnival Liberty, which is homeported in Galveston, Texas, is experiencing a technical issue which is affecting the ship’s maximum cruising speed. The issue is only affecting the ship’s speed and all other systems are operating normally. The ship is capable of operating cruises at reduced maximum speeds while Carnival’s technical team, together with outside experts, continues to work to fully resolve the problem.

Carnival Valor to Move to Galveston, Carnival Liberty to be Based in Port Canaveral Beginning January 2017In light of the above, the remainder of Carnival Liberty’s cruises through the month of November will have modified itineraries (detailed below). Following these voyages, the ship will go into a previously scheduled drydock then reposition to Port Canaveral, Florida to operate cruises from that port beginning December 15.

This change is being made since Carnival Valor is better suited to operate at the higher speeds required for the four and five-day Mexico itineraries from Galveston while Carnival Liberty is well equipped to handle shorter duration cruises from Central Florida.

Built only one year apart, Carnival Valor and Carnival Liberty are sister ships with similar accommodations, public venues and Fun Ship 2.0 features including Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Carnival Liberty’s modified cruises from Galveston for the balance of November are as follows:

• 14 CRUISE – The Nov. 14 five-day departure will include an overnight call in Cozumel (the call at Progreso has been cancelled). The ship’s arrival back into Galveston on Nov. 19 will be delayed until later in the day. Guests sailing on this voyage will receive a $50 per person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 25 percent discount on a future Carnival cruise. Guests also have the option of cancelling and receiving a full refund.

• 19 CRUISE: The Nov. 19 seven-day cruise will include stops in Cozumel and Costa Maya (the calls in Falmouth, Jamaica and Grand Cayman have been cancelled). The ship’s departure time will be 10:00pm for this cruise. Guests sailing on this voyage will receive a $50 per person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 25 percent discount on a future Carnival cruise. Guests also have the option of cancelling and receiving a full refund.

• 26 CRUISE – The Nov. 26 five-day departure will include an overnight call in Cozumel (the call at Progreso has been cancelled). The ship’s arrival back into Galveston on Dec. 1 will be delayed until later in the day. Guests sailing on this voyage will receive a $50 per person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 25 percent discount on a future Carnival cruise. Guests also have the option of cancelling and receiving a full refund.

In addition, one Carnival Valor voyage, the four-day cruise from Port Canaveral departing Dec. 11, will need to be shortened to allow sufficient time for the ship to transit to Galveston:

• The scheduled December 11 four-day cruise from Port Canaveral on Carnival Valor will be shortened to a three-day cruise departing on December 11. The cruise will visit Freeport and Nassau which were the scheduled ports on the four-day cruise. Guests sailing on this voyage will receive a one day pro-rated refund of cruise fare and a $25 per person credit to their shipboard account. Guests also have the option of cancelling and receiving a full refund.

For guests on Carnival Liberty being transferred to Carnival Valor and vice versa, the cruise line will automatically transfer the reservations. Affected sailings are now temporarily closed in the system as the reservations team prepares to make the necessary changes. This work is expected to be completed by the end of November at which point new confirmations will be sent to all guests and they will again be able to access their reservations. Fly2Fun flights, transfers and other vacation components such as dining choices, pre-paid gratuities, shore excursions, Fun Shop items and Spa reservations will be maintained as originally booked.

Princess Announces Largest Ever Fall Deployment in Canada & New England
The 2018 Canada & New England cruise season offered by Princess Cruises showcases the fall foliage to iconic destinations along the east coast and offers the largest deployment ever with two of the cruise line's newest ships – Regal Princess and Royal Princess.

Princess Announces Largest Ever Fall Deployment in Canada & New EnglandThe 3,560-guest Regal Princess and Royal Princess, sailing for the first time together departing from New York and Quebec, offer 10 cruise departures on four unique itineraries, visiting 12 destinations in New England and Canada.

"We're excited to bring two of our newest ships to Canada & New England in 2018, so that more guests can enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage and famed destinations and landmarks in this region," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.

All 2018 Canada/New England cruises are open for sale on December 1. Highlights include:

• Royal Princess makes her maiden 10- to 11-day voyages out of Quebec and New York featuring overnight stays in Quebec on every voyage. These cruises visit Newport, Boston, Portland, Saint John (for the Bay of Fundy), Halifax, Sydney (Cape Breton Island), Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) and Quebec. The 11-day cruises include an overnight stay in Boston. Cruises depart Sept. 25; Oct. 5 and 16.

• In addition, Royal Princess offers a 14-day Canada & Colonial America cruise from Quebec to Ft. Lauderdale featuring calls in Port Saguenay (scenic cruising of the Saguenay River), Sydney (Cape Breton Island), Halifax, Saint John (for the Bay of Fundy), Bar Harbor (for Acadia National Park), Boston, Newport, New York and Norfolk (for Williamsburg and Jamestown). This cruise departs on Oct. 26.

• Regal Princess sails on seven-day cruises roundtrip from New York, visiting Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor (for Acadia National Park), Saint John (for the Bay of Fundy) and Halifax. Cruises depart Sept. 22, 29; Oct. 6, 13 and 20.

• A five-day Canadian Atlantic Provinces Getaway out of New York is also being offered aboard Regal Princess, visiting Saint John (for the Bay of Fundy) and Halifax. This voyage departs on Oct. 27.

To further enhance guests' cruise vacations, Princess Cruises is pleased to offer a choice of two cruisetours on the East Coast to see the sites of colonial America or Niagara Falls and the best of Eastern Canada:

• Historic America Cruisetour takes guests to such important places as Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate, Colonial Williamsburg, Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the Gettysburg Battlefield.

The Maple Explorer Cruisetour brings guests to beautiful Niagra Falls; exciting cities like the capital of Ottawa and French-flavored Montreal with guided tours of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, dazzling cathedrals and the historic 19th century Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guests will also be treated to a lovely cruise through the picturesque Thousand Islands.

King of Chinese Pop" Wang Leehom named Godfather of Norwegian Joy
Arriving in Summer 2017 with home ports in Shanghai and Beijing (Tianjin), Norwegian Joy will be Norwegian Cruise Line's first purpose- built ship for the Chinese market and designed to deliver on the promise that guests will enjoy 'First Class at Sea’ experiences.

King of Chinese Pop Wang Leehom named Godfather of Norwegian JoyAlong with serving as Godfather of Norwegian Joy, Leehom will also represent NCL China as its brand ambassador, introducing Norwegian Cruise Line’s unparalleled cruise experience to Chinese consumers through a variety of platforms, including television and radio commercial campaigns, as well as on social media. Wang Leehom will become the first Chinese Godfather of any cruise ship brand, joining the likes of renowned hip hop artist, Pitbull, Godfather of Norwegian’s most recent ship, the Miami-based Norwegian Escape. Leehom’s role will include a number of special appearances including the traditional role of christening Norwegian Joy at the ship’s inauguration ceremony in Summer 2017, as well as other exciting roles at the launch event and beyond.

A Chinese-American singer songwriter, music producer, actor, and film director, Wang Leehom is known as the “King of Chinese Pop” for his wide range of musical styles blending pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, classical and traditional Chinese music. His musical collaborations have included work with international stars including Tony Bennett, Avicii, Usher, Lang Lang, and JJ Lin. He has performed in over 100 cities worldwide in his career. Leehom’s film career includes a starring role in Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution.

As a bridge between Eastern and Western worlds, Wang Leehom is a worldwide cultural ambassador, with a platform of more than 60 million social media followers.

Leehom’s appointment as Godfather displays Norwegian Joy’s vision of delivering the best of the Norwegian Cruise Line brand to China, while also being customized to the Chinese traveler.

“I'm honored to have the opportunity to share the cruising lifestyle with Chinese guests as Godfather of Norwegian Joy. Cruising is an exciting way of experiencing travel and leisure that I'm thrilled to be sharing with China.” said Wang Leehom.

“As a Chinese star with a high international profile, connecting East and West through his music and movies, Leehom is the perfect Godfather for Norwegian Joy, a ship custom designed for our Chinese guests that also brings the best of the East and West together. We are thrilled to be working with him as a partner to introduce the NCL ‘First Class at Sea’ cruising experience to China next summer,” said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings President and Chief Executive Officer Frank J. Del Rio.

“We are honored and excited to have Wang Leehom as the Godfather of our spectacular new premium vessel Norwegian Joy, and as a brand ambassador for NCL in China. Leehom is a highly accomplished artist and family man that we are proud to partner with in China and beyond.” said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China President, David J. Herrera.

Princess Cruises Resumes Summer Caribbean Cruises in 2018
For the first time in four years, Princess Cruises will offer Summer Caribbean cruises including Panama Canal transits in 2018. The 3,192-guest Caribbean Princess returns to sail on a full summer season of voyages ranging from seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean to a 20-day Caribbean and Panama Canal Explorer. All Summer Caribbean cruises are open for sale Dec. 1.

Princess Cruises Resumes Summer Caribbean Cruises in 2018The 2018 April to October summer program features 47 departures, roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, including eight unique itineraries visiting 23 destinations in 22 countries. In addition, four ports offer late night stays so guests have more time to explore the evening offerings these destinations have to offer.

New for 2018, 20-day Caribbean and Panama Explorer voyages combine a 10-day Panama cruise and a 10-day Southern Caribbean Medley or Eastern Caribbean Voyager cruise. Princess Cruises takes more guests through this engineering marvel than other cruise line.

"Summertime is the prime vacation season for most Americans and we're happy to offer the Caribbean in 2018," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We have award-winning itineraries of various lengths so families, honeymooners, couples, friends and travelers alike can get away to explore new places, reconnect with one another and ultimately 'come back new' with Princess."

Caribbean cruise highlights for Summer Caribbean 2018, roundtrip out of Ft. Lauderdale, include:

Eastern Caribbean (7 days) – Guests can enjoy an adventurous week in the Caribbean, including calls at the ports of Princess Cays, St. Thomas, Grand Turk or Amber Cove with a multitude of water activities to choose from. Sailings depart May 26; June 9, 23; July 7, 21; August 4, 18; and September 1.

Western Caribbean (7 days) – Alternating with the Eastern Caribbean voyages, this itinerary features calls at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Roatan and Belize highlighting the Mayan culture and history of the region. Caribbean Princess sets sail on this route on May 19; June 2, 16, 30; July 14, 28; and August 11, 25.

Guests can combine these popular seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages, for a 14-day Caribbean East/West Adventure.

Southern Caribbean (8 days) – For a more in-depth experience, one Southern Caribbean cruise will be offered with stops in Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire; departs May 11.

Eastern Caribbean Voyager (10 days) – For more relaxation time, guests will enjoy an extended Eastern Caribbean cruise, visiting Princess Cays, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts. Cruises depart May 1 and September 28.

Southern Caribbean Medley (10 days) – For those looking for deeper exploration, guests can travel to the beautiful beaches in the Southern Caribbean, including Princess Cays, St. Thomas, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire and Curacao. Departures on April 11; September 8 and October 18.

Panama Canal with Costa Rica (10 days) – Transiting the new Agua Clara Locks with a Panama Canal partial transit, including a day of scenic cruising through Gatun Lake, guests will also visit Grand Cayman, Cartagena, Colon, Costa Rica (Límon) and Falmouth (Jamaica). Sailings depart April 1, 21; Sept. 18; and Oct. 8.

Guests can combine the cruise line's signature 10-day Panama Canal voyage with the 10-day Southern Caribbean Medley or Eastern Caribbean Voyager for the ultimate 20-day cruise vacation.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 51.26 + 0.95%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 82.67 - 1.65%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.27 + 1.34%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 39.59 - 4.23%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Before selecting the former France for conversion into the cruise ship Norway, NCL examined three other 900 ft + former liners. Name at least two of the three former liners they did not select.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
It's been a long time since a cruise ship or ocean liner was built in a United States ship yard. The last pair was built in the 1950's. What were the names of these ships and what line did they sail for?

Answer - Argentina and Brazil first sailed for the McCormick Line, but both had many incarnations including Veendam and Volendam for HAL. Brazil served as the campus for The Semester at Sea program until May of 2004. My older two children spent a semester aboard in 2000 and 2002
courtesy of William Carpi


FONT CLASS="text_headline">Cruise News - November 14, 2016

Harmony Of The Seas Officially Named
Royal Caribbean International celebrated the homecoming of Harmony of the Seas with a spectacular naming ceremony, befitting the world’s largest cruise ship. Hosting the highly-anticipated ceremony was Brittany Affolter from Teach For America Miami-Dade, who was selected as Godmother of Harmony of the Seas for her work in inspiring South Florida’s next generation to dream big, think differently and challenge the status quo. Royal Caribbean conducted a six-week search and received nearly one thousand nominees for the honor usually reserved for celebrities and royalty. To further welcome the ship to her new homeport in South Florida, singer-songwriter and Miami native Jon Secada, took center stage, performing some of his greatest hits.

Harmony Of The Seas Officially NamedJoining sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas on the east coast of Florida – which are homeported in Port Canaveral and Port Everglades respectively – Harmony offers seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, providing new adventures from the islands of the Caribbean to the shores of Mexico.

Harmony of the Seas features a bold and unexpected lineup of thrilling experiences, giving adventure-seeking travelers the vacation of a lifetime. Nowhere else on land or at sea can travelers find such imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology, including VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. Harmony combines the iconic seven-neighborhood concept that sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are known for, with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities and offerings that will appeal to guests of all ages.

From the Ultimate Abyss, a dramatic 10-story-tall slide, to jaw-dropping high diving performances in the ship’s trademark AquaTheater, sophisticated dining in venues ranging from Jamie’s Italian Cuisine by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to Royal Caribbean’s whimsical restaurant Wonderland, which is a unique culinary adventure for the senses, and robot bartenders, there is an adventure for everyone onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Harmony of the Seas spans 16 guest decks, encompasses 226,963 gross registered tons, carries 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and features 2,747 staterooms.

Carnival Fantasy Kicks Off Four- And Five-Day Cruise Schedule From Alabama
Carnival Fantasy arrived at its new homeport of Mobile, Ala., today to launch a schedule of year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico.

Carnival Fantasy Kicks Off Four- And Five-Day Cruise Schedule From AlabamaThe ship's arrival was marked with a special invitation-only event that included a competition for charity featuring Carnival President Christine Duffy, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, President of the Mobile City Council Gina Gregory, and Carnival Fantasy Captain Bruno Palomba, as well as a traditional maritime plaque exchange between cruise line and port officials. The competition, part of Carnival's popular Hasbro, The Game Show activities, included a $20,000 donation each to the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Alabama and Feeding the Gulf Coast.

Following the event, the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy departs Mobile this afternoon on a sold-out five-day cruise to Cozumel and Progreso, kicking off a year-long schedule of four- and five-day cruises to these stunning Mexican ports.

"With its Southern charm, excellent terminal facilities and easy-to-reach location, Mobile is a terrific new addition to Carnival's homeport lineup and we're delighted to offer these convenient and affordable cruises to Mexico's most popular ports of call," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "From Mayor Sandy Stimpson and everyone at the City of Mobile to the Alabama Cruise Terminal team and the entire Mobile community, we are greatly appreciative for their partnership and the very warm welcome," she added.

"We are pleased and excited to welcome Carnival Cruise Lines back to the City of Mobile," said Mayor Sandy Stimpson. "This is a moment we've been working toward since the day we took office. It represents a win for our city, a win for Carnival and most of all a win for the thousands of people who can once again enjoy a great cruise out of one of America's greatest cities."

Carnival Fantasy's four-day "long weekend" itinerary departs Thursdays, calling at Cozumel. Five-day itineraries depart Monday and Saturdays, visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya or Progreso.

Each of these destinations is known for beautiful white-sand beaches, interesting historical sites and attractions, and excellent snorkeling, scuba diving and watersports. During the day-long call at Progreso, guests have the opportunity to visit Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, while guests visiting Cozumel can check out ancient Mayan ruins or enjoy the destination's wide range of shopping and dining experiences. At Costa Maya, guests can explore the centuries-old Chacchoben ruins or visit the Lost Mayan Kingdom, a multi-million-dollar water-themed attraction featuring spectacular slides, an elaborate lazy river, a suspended ropes course that spans the property and more.

Carnival Fantasy recently underwent an extensive dry dock during which it received many of the fleet's latest food and beverage innovations. These include Guy's Burger Joint, a complimentary poolside dining venue serving hand-crafted burgers and fries created by the popular chef and restaurateur, all enjoyed amid interiors celebrating Fieri's California roots and love of car culture.

Located adjacent to Guy's Burger Joint is BlueIguana Cantina offering authentic handmade burritos and tacos along with an elaborate toppings and salsa bar. Also poolside is the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Rum Bar, offering the region's top rums and beers, as well as the BlueIguana Tequila Bar serving Mexican beers, margaritas and other frosty libations.

Carnival Fantasy features a 12,000-square-foot spa, a WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 300-foot-long Twister slide and a kiddie splash zone, and a Serenity adults-only retreat, as well as fun, supervised programs for kids ages 2-17, full casino gambling and a wide array of additional dining options.

Celebrity Offers New One of a Kind Experience in the Galapagos
Magnificent views, pristine environments and pre-historic iguanas and blue-footed boobies are just a few things you'll find when sailing the Galapagos Islands with Celebrity Cruises. Bookable now for sailings beginning March 25, 2017, adventure seekers will be able to sail onboard the beautiful Celebrity Xploration, experiencing the Galapagos Islands through a modern luxury lens. Following its recent upgrade, which was completed on Oct. 16, 2016, the state-of-the-art, 16-guest intimate catamaran emerged from drydock equipped with Celebrity’s signature services and amenities and will offer two alternating, unique itineraries. This is the Celebrity Distinction.

Celebrity Offers New One of a Kind Experience in the GalapagosGuests can now select accommodations in one of the beautiful, catamaran-style ship's eight luxurious staterooms and junior suites; each offering memorable views as well as upgraded premium mattresses and pillows, plush bedding, LCD TVs and internet service. Newly upgraded public areas include a vast, refreshed bar in the Al Fresco outdoor grill area; modernized, sophisticated dining room; climate controlled wine storage for each varietal; revitalized sun deck; and renovated main lounge and boutique area featuring two 65-inch TVs.

"A distinct unparalleled, all-inclusive experience like the Galapagos journey warrants a uniquely intimate ship, and that's Celebrity Xploration. The ship's design and layout highlights stunning views, and while our guests are taking in those breathtaking views, they will also enjoy a best-in-class, modern luxury experience," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "This ship is also perfect for multi-generational families or those looking to charter a sailing for a life changing vacation."

Explore the natural wonders of the Galapagos onboard this intimate ship. As part of the truly all-inclusive Galapagos experience, all Celebrity Xploration cruises will offer enthralling shore excursions led by expert naturalists and feature fresh regional seafood and fish with menus inspired by Celebrity’s Michelin-starred chef. In addition, guests will also enjoy regional coffee, spirits, chocolate and other delights, all provided by the best staff at sea. There is truly something for everybody onboard.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.78 + 3.65%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.06 + 9.91%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.24 + 0.45%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 41.34 + 9.28%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
It's been a long time since a cruise ship or ocean liner was built in a United States ship yard. The last pair was built in the 1950's. What were the names of these ships and what line did they sail for?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which famous liner came to the assistance of the Andrea Doria after she was struck by the Swedish liner Stockholm in 1956?

Answer - The French Line transatlantic liner "Ile de France" came to the rescue after the collision between the Italian liner "Andrea Doria" and the Swedish Liner "Stockholm" on July 25, 1956. The collision occured in fog off the Nantucket Shoals.
courtesy of Larry MacDonald


Cruise News - November 7, 2016

World's Three Largest Cruise Ships Meet For The First Time At Sea
Royal Caribbean International's Oasis-class ships, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and the new Harmony of the Seas, struck a chord today, greeting each other at sea for the first and possibly only time. In a meeting of unprecedented proportions, the three record-breaking sisters came together to celebrate the U.S. arrival of Harmony of the Seas on the eve of the ship's debut in her new permanent homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Royal Caribbean International's Oasis-class ships, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and the new Harmony of the SeasThe Oasis-class ships are architectural and engineering marvels, boasting industry-changing and unexpected onboard experiences. Each ship features seven themed neighborhoods – a distinctive feature of the Oasis-class ships – and a number of spectacular features, adventures and thrills, including the lush and tranquil Central Park with nearly 12,000 plants and trees, FlowRider surf simulators; a thrilling zip line 82 foot long that races guests nine-decks in the air, luxurious multi-level loft suites with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, the outdoor AquaTheater that hosts dazzling high-diving, aquatic and acrobatic performances, a Boardwalk with a hand-carved carousel, and The Rising Tide Bar, the first moving bar at sea.

The newest and youngest of the three ships, Harmony of the Seas, officially claimed the title of world’s largest cruise ship, beating her sisters by a mere foot in length and nearly 1,700 gross registered tons. The ship features a bold lineup of new thrilling experiences, imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology, including VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. Harmony combines the iconic seven neighborhood concept with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities and offerings that will appeal to guests of all ages. From The Ultimate Abyss, a dramatic 10-story tall slide, to unparalleled entertainment including Broadway’s hit musical Grease, sophisticated dining in venues ranging from Jamie’s Italian Cuisine by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to Royal Caribbean’s whimsical restaurant Wonderland, which is a unique culinary adventure for the senses, and robot bartenders, there is an adventure for everyone onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Carnival Corporation to Partner with INTERPOL for Enhanced Security Screening
Carnival Corporation today announced it will be the first maritime company to partner with INTERPOL for advanced security screening across its global operations, including its 10 brands and fleet of 101 ships that annually carry nearly 11 million passengers, or about half the global cruise market, to more than 700 ports around the world.

Mick O'Connell, director of operational support and analysis for INTERPOL, presents at INTERPOL's General AssemblyCarnival Corporation received approval today to integrate its global passenger check-in process with INTERPOL'S I-Checkit system, a secure method for screening travel document information against INTERPOL's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database, containing over 69 million records from 175 countries.

The approval resulted from a resolution vote held today in Bali, Indonesia, at INTERPOL'S General Assembly, the annual meeting of 190 member countries that comprise the world's largest international police organization.

Today's news follows a three-month I-Checkit pilot program on four of Carnival Corporation's Princess Cruises brand ships. The trial included 34,000 travel documents that were successfully checked against the SLTD database to demonstrate the system's ability to enhance security for the global cruise industry.

The full results of the pilot program were presented to INTERPOL's General Assembly today prior to its member countries passing an official resolution that enables Carnival Corporation to expand its I-Checkit deployment among its 10 cruise brands in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Its brands include Carnival Cruise Line, Fathom, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (UK).

Carnival Corporation and INTERPOL can now work together on an expanded partnership agreement to cover a phased rollout of the I-Checkit system across its brands. By partnering with INTERPOL on a global integration of I-Checkit technology, Carnival Corporation will further strengthen its leading safety and security protocols by creating a single global standard for security screening used throughout its ports of call.

"One of our top priorities at Carnival Corporation is the safety and security of our guests, our crew and our ships," said Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation and retired Vice Admiral of the U.S. Navy. "As the world's largest cruise company carrying hundreds of thousands of daily passengers, having a highly effective and efficient security screening process is a crucial part of how we serve our guests every day. Partnering with INTERPOL enables us to seamlessly enhance security across our global fleet while also maintaining our commitment to providing our guests with a great vacation experience. This is another important step for our company and industry as we continue taking proactive measures to enhance the safety and security of our passengers and crew members."

As Carnival Corporation expands I-Checkit globally, the company's brands will be able to automatically query the SLTD database before and during the boarding process to see if any passenger travel documents have been reported lost or stolen. To ensure privacy and security, no personal data is accessed or transmitted in this process.

"With its real-time secure global alert system, criminal intelligence potential and compliance framework, I-Checkit provides an invaluable preventative and investigative capability for global policing," said Michael O'Connell, director of INTERPOL's operational support and analysis directorate and head of the I-Checkit program. "I-Checkit's initiative with Carnival Corporation offers an additional layer of safety in the travel sector by creating an international standard for security screening."

Carnival Vista's U.S. Arrival And Naming Ceremony Celebrated With Shipboard Concert For Military Families
To celebrate the U.S. arrival of its newest, largest and most innovative ship, Carnival Cruise Line held an overnight gala event today in New York featuring a concert for Operation Homefront military families by the Country Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year and seven-time GRAMMY award-winning country music super star Carrie Underwood.

The event also included the ship's official naming ceremony with Miss USA Deshauna Barber – the first woman serving in the U.S. military to hold the title -- presiding over the ceremonies as godmother and releasing the ceremonial bottle of champagne that smashed over the hull of the massive 133,500-ton ship. In addition to the concert, the festivities included overnight accommodations, meals, activities and entertainment for hundreds of military families.

Country music artist Carrie Underwood performs aboard the new Carnival Vista Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in New York CityThe festivities represent the culmination of Honor.Family.Fun., Carnival's year-long celebration to support Operation Homefront and help the organization fulfill its mission of building strong, stable, and secure military families.

"Carnival Cruise Line carries more active and retired military personnel and I couldn't think of a better way to introduce this spectacular vessel than by honoring and celebrating the sacrifices of our Armed Forces personnel," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Deshauna is the ideal candidate to serve as Carnival Vista's godmother, embodying the spirit of commitment and sacrifice of those who protect our freedoms each and every day."

Underwood performed an hour-long set for hundreds of military personnel and their families, many of whom were given the chance of a lifetime to meet the artist during various meet and greet opportunities during stops along her Storyteller Tour, and were invited to attend the festivities aboard Carnival Vista.

"It was truly an honor to perform aboard Carnival Vista today and celebrate the incredible sacrifices of the brave men and women of the Armed Forces," said Underwood. "Throughout my partnership with Carnival Cruise Line we have recognized the efforts of our dedicated military personnel while raising funds for Operation Homefront. It is something I am very proud to be a part of."

The daughter of a retired Army master sergeant who was a member of the Special Forces, Barber joined the Army Reserve as a quartermaster officer in 2011. After earning her bachelors in business management from Virginia State University, Barber went on to complete her masters in computer information systems from the University of Maryland University College. She currently serves as logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit in Rockville, Md.

"I'm honored to serve as godmother of the brand new Carnival Vista and join a long line of strong, successful women who have fulfilled this time-honored role," said Barber. "In addition to serving as godmother, today was extra special as I had the opportunity to meet several Operation Homefront families and hear their stories. It is a day I'll never forget."

"We're thrilled Carnival Cruise Line has honored those that do so much for the freedoms we enjoy daily – our service members and their families – with a truly memorable day onboard their newest ship," said Brig. Gen. (ret.) John I. Pray Jr., president and CEO of Operation Homefront. "Like-minded partners, like Carnival and Carrie Underwood, clearly demonstrate, through their actions, their steadfast commitment to our men and women in uniform."

As the line's newest ship, Carnival Vista introduced a number of groundbreaking innovations including the first brewery on a North American-based cruise ship, the first IMAX Theatre at sea, the most elaborate water park in the fleet highlighted by the 455-foot-long Kaleid-o-slide, a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky aerial attraction called SkyRide, and the new Family Harbor with specially designed staterooms for families, a family concierge and more.

Carnival Vista will operate a pair of 11-day sailings from New York before launching year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean service from Miami beginning Nov. 27.

Carnival Splendor To Sail From Long Beach In 2018
Carnival Cruise Line will increase capacity in Southern California when Carnival Splendor launches week-long Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach, Calif., beginning in 2018.

With this capacity expansion, Carnival is further bolstering its leadership position in a popular and convenient homeport, adding a newer, larger vessel on the West Coast with Carnival Splendor.

Country music artist Carrie Underwood performs aboard the new Carnival Vista Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in New York CityCarnival recently announced that it had signed an agreement with landlord Urban Commons and the City of Long Beach to expand the Long Beach Cruise Terminal facility to accommodate larger ships like Carnival Splendor and enhance its terminal operations. Carnival has operated the Long Beach Cruise Terminal since 2003 using a partial area of the Geodesic Dome that was the former museum housing Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" attraction. The agreement gives Carnival 100 percent use of the Dome, nearly tripling the size of its current terminal facility. Construction is slated to be completed in late 2017.

Prior to launching service from Long Beach, Carnival Splendor will offer a 13-day Panama Canal cruise in January 2018 that will feature a variety of spectacular ports throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Carnival Splendor will also operate unique 14-day Hawaii cruises round-trip from Long Beach.

"Long Beach is a highly convenient and popular homeport and we're delighted to provide our guests with exciting new year-round cruise vacation choices aboard a newer, larger ship in this market," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "At the same time, we're also very pleased that we're able to expand our terminal facilities in Long Beach with full utilization of the dome which will ensure we can provide our guests with a high quality and efficient experience at the port."

Week-Long Mexican Riviera Cruises Aboard Carnival Splendor
The 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor will launch a year-round schedule of seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach, beginning Jan. 27, 2018, replacing Carnival Miracle and representing a 41 percent capacity increase on the line's week-long cruises from the West Coast.

Three different itineraries will be offered, each featuring stunning destinations along the Mexican Riviera. One itinerary visits Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta, another spends two days at Cabo San Lucas and a full day in Puerto Vallarta, and a third overnights in Puerto Vallarta with a day-long call in Cabo San Lucas, as well. On these cruises, guests can relax on beautiful beaches, visit centuries-old historical sites and enjoy unforgettable dining and shopping experiences.

Carnival Splendor will join Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination which both offer three- and four-day Baja cruises from Long Beach. With the addition of Carnival Splendor, the line will carry upwards of 700,000 guests annually from Southern California, operating nearly 250 three- to 14-day cruises a year.

Exciting Panama Canal and Hawaii Cruises
Prior to its repositioning to Long Beach, Carnival Splendor will also offer a special 13-day Panama Canal cruise departing Miami Jan. 14, and arriving in Long Beach Jan. 27, 2018, [becoming the first Carnival ship to transit the newly opened Panama Canal locks] and providing guests the opportunity to experience this engineering marvel firsthand. The cruise will visit Cartagena prior to the Panama Canal transit, then call at Puntarenas, Puerto Quetzal and Cabo San Lucas.

Additionally, Carnival Splendor will operate two 14-day Carnival Journeys cruises to Hawaii round-trip from Long Beach – one departing Oct. 13, 2018, and the other Dec. 1, 2018. In addition to visiting four breathtaking Hawaiian destinations – Maui, Honolulu, Kona and Hilo – and a call at Ensenada, Mexico, guests sailing on these Carnival Journeys cruises will enjoy unique local dining and entertainment experiences and a number of shipboard enrichment activities.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Names New Senior Vice President, Sales
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that Camille Olivere is joining the brand as Senior Vice President, Sales effective November 30, 2016. Formerly Senior Vice President of Partner Brands at World Travel Holdings, Olivere returns to Norwegian to cultivate and further enhance travel partner engagement across sales channels under the Norwegian’s Partners First philosophy and lead the continued development of sales in North America.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that Camille Olivere is joining the brand as Senior Vice President“It is my pleasure to warmly welcome Camille back to the Norwegian Cruise Line family,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We recognize that her very strong relationships with travel partners of all different sizes and business models will enrich our ongoing engagement and education efforts, and know her vision will strengthen our Partners First values, an idea that we formalized during her previous tenure at the company and look forward to developing further with her return.”

Olivere originally joined the Norwegian sales team in 2009 as vice president of sales, supporting Stuart, who was then executive vice president of Sales. In 2012, she was promoted to senior vice president, achieving significant growth in the company’s charter business and leading efforts to re-energize the brand’s travel agency advocacy, with a focus on growing trade relationships through optimized marketing and co-op budgets to maximize sales. Now, she is delighted to return to Norwegian to continue to support and promote the company’s travel agent partners.

"I am so excited to rejoin the team at Norwegian and work alongside Andy in his new role as President and CEO. It’s an incredible time to be part of the Norwegian family and I look forward to continuing to support our valued travel partners across the U.S. and Canada in this new position,” said Olivere. “I have the utmost respect and admiration for the team at World Travel Holdings and I am grateful for a wonderful experience during my time with the company. I thank Brad and Jeff Tolkin and the entire team for their support as I transition to this exciting new role."

In addition to her time at World Travel Holdings where she was responsible for the company’s private-label partnership cruise portfolio including new business development, Olivere also previously served as senior vice president of sales for ClubMed, a role that saw her initiate a turnaround of U.S. travel agency sales and launch new partnerships. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Supplier Trade Committee and the America Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) Marketing Committee.

Olivere will be based at Norwegian Cruise Line’s headquarters in Miami reporting to Stuart and will head the North American sales leadership team that includes Alex Pinelo, vice president, key accounts and Nathan Hickman, vice president, field sales.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 48.99 - 0.22%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.48 - 0.51%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.23 + 0.90%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 37.83 - 2.68%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous liner came to the assistance of the Andrea Doria after she was struck by the Swedish liner Stockholm in 1956?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which was the first cruise/passenger ship to have televisions in every passenger cabin?

Answer - Chandris Line's Anerikanis, built as the Kenya Castle for Union Castle Lines in 1952.
courtesy of George Northup


Cruise News - October 31, 2016

Carnival Corporation to Expand the Fathom Experience to Additional Company Cruise Line Brands
Carnival Corporation today announced plans to expand its Fathom brand's Dominican Republic social impact experiences to its other cruise line brands sailing to its Amber Cove port of call.

Beginning in November, guests sailing regularly on the six additional Carnival Corporation brands to Amber Cove will be able to purchase a social impact excursion – a new participatory and immersive travel category pioneered by Fathom that takes people into the heart of a destination to explore local communities and discover its people in unconventional ways. Guests can purchase a social impact excursion just as they do today with traditional shore excursions.

Carnival Corporation to Expand the Fathom Experience to Additional Company Cruise Line Brands""The feedback from our travelers and our local Dominican partners who have participated in Fathom's social impact experiences in the Dominican Republic has been overwhelmingly positive and mutually beneficial," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. "Our travelers repeatedly tell us the activities and alongsided interaction with the local Dominican people is very fulfilling, rekindling their hope and passion and inspiring a whole new perspective on life."

Russell added: "Additionally, the social impact experiences create enduring positive impact in the lives of children, families and communities, significantly affecting bright futures. It is exciting to now offer thousands of guests who sail with our family of brands to Amber Cove the opportunity to be part of Fathom's social impact experience and broader story."

Since Fathom began its every-other-week voyages in May 2016 to Amber Cove – located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic -- its guests have been able to produce and install 730 water filters for local families, construct concrete floors for hundreds of people in 40 homes, plant nearly 16,000 seedlings and plants, and have provided approximately 17,500 hours of English conversational language skills training to adult and youth students.

Seven of the 10 Carnival Corporation brands make calls on Amber Cove -- AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Fathom, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises UK. By offering Fathom experiences to guests sailing on its other brands, the company expects to provide this unique, personally enriching experience to a much wider and growing number of guests with each additional sailing. In turn, this has the potential of significantly expanding the number of traveler impact days per month and broader collective impact story in the Dominican Republic.

To expand the Fathom social impact experience, the company will provide the following new excursions:


• Hands-On Chocolate Experience at a Women's Cooperative: Travelers will engage in an immersive cultural experience and make an impact in the Puerto Plata community during a unique, hands-on visit to a chocolate cooperative founded by enterprising local women. Travelers will visit the small community of Altamira where they will discover Chocal, a tiny organic-chocolate factory run by a group of local women committed to earning an income while remaining close to their families. Travelers will have the opportunity to work alongside these women to participate in the chocolate production process from bean to bar, a truly rewarding experience.
• Volunteer Experience at Recycled Paper & Crafts Entrepreneurship: For a rewarding experience that makes an impact on local communities, travelers may embark on an engaging and immersive cultural experience visiting artisans at a recycling micro-business. In the little village of El Javillar, travelers will find the RePapel co-op, a Recycled Paper & Crafts initiative that has taught local women to repurpose natural, recycled paper into treasures. Travelers will work side by side with these friendly women, discovering all aspects of the program, including creating new products for sale. At the end of their experience, travelers may purchase keepsake products to take home as mementos of their day. Fathom is also currently exploring additional opportunities globally and with sister brands to bring the Fathom onboard and onshore engaging, purposeful experiences to a broader audience of travelers. New and additional opportunities for travelers to engage in the Fathom experience will be shared in coming months.

Featuring a two-berth port and a 25-acre landside development nestled in a picturesque cove, Amber Cove provides cruise guests from Carnival Corporation's brands with a convenient gateway to one of the newest Caribbean destinations -- the Puerto Plata region on the island's north coast. Referred to as the "Amber Coast," the region is known for the friendliness of its people, its history and culture, and the beauty of its beaches, mountains, forests, waterfalls and rivers.

The port also re-opened in November 2015 the spectacular Puerto Plata region to regular cruise ship visits for the first time in nearly 30 years, adding a new and exotic destination to the Caribbean, the world's most popular region for cruising.

In total, there are more than 40 excursion options currently being offered to guests sailing to Amber Cove with the company's brands. This includes traditional recreational and sight-seeing cruise excursions, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing or simply a relaxing day at the beach.

Royal Caribbean Reports Solid Third Quarter Results
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) today reported GAAP and adjusted third quarter earnings of $3.21 and $3.20, respectively, up 13% from last year and better than expectations. Full year adjusted earnings guidance is unchanged at $6.00 to $6.10 per share.

Looking ahead to 2017, RCL said that it's booked position is better than same time last year on both volume and rate, supporting the company's trajectory to the Double-Double.

Princess Cruises Announces Partnership with French Chef Emmanuel RenautNet Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 2.9% during the quarter, better than previous guidance. Continued strength in demand for North American products was a key driver of the outperformance while the balance of the portfolio performed in-line with expectations. Growth in onboard revenue continued to outpace overall net yield growth, despite an extraordinary outperformance last summer. Favorable trends in both currency and fuel compared to expectations also provided a benefit to the quarter.

US GAAP Net Income for the third quarter 2016 was $693.3 million or $3.21 per share, compared to $228.8 million or $1.03 per share in 2015 – this includes $399.3 million in non-cash impairment charges related to the Pullmantur brand that was taken last year. Adjusted Net Income for the third quarter of 2016 was $690.9 million, or $3.20 per share, which was $0.10 better than guidance and up 13% versus same quarter last year. About half of the outperformance was driven by better than expected revenue performance, with the balance of the improvement being mainly driven by the benefits of a weaker dollar and lower fuel prices.

Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel decreased 1.6%, in-line with expectations. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the third quarter was $524 per metric ton and consumption was 341,000 metric tons.

FULL YEAR 2016

The company maintains full year Adjusted EPS guidance of $6.00 to $6.10 per share. Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be up 4.0% or better for the full year. Strong close-in demand for North American itineraries in the third quarter is helping offset an impact from the delayed opening of Empress of the Seas sailings during the fourth quarter.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up approximately 1.0% on a Constant-Currency basis, in-line with previous guidance.

"Our strong booked position and continued focus on effective cost management is expected to keep full year earnings ahead of initial guidance and positions us well for the Double-Double in 2017," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "Minor operational variations are causing some timing shifts between quarters, but the overall market and our overall results remain unchanged from our last guidance."

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, the company expects 2016 Adjusted EPS in the range of $6.00 to $6.10 per share.

FOURTH QUARTER 2016

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be up approximately 6.0% in the fourth quarter of 2016, and NCC excluding fuel are expected to be down approximately 1.5%.

These yield improvement expectations in the fourth quarter are largely driven by the deconsolidation of Pullmantur that was announced earlier this year, strong demand for our new hardware and a higher mix of North American and Australian based itineraries.

Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, the company expects fourth quarter Adjusted EPS to be approximately $1.20 per share.

2017 OUTLOOK

At this time, 2017 itineraries are booked ahead of last year in both rate and volume. New ships including Harmony of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas are seeing strong trends, supporting a solid outlook for 2017.

"Next year marks the finish line for the Double-Double and we are looking forward to a strong finish to this chapter in our continuous journey of rising shareholder returns," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "New hardware, continued strength onboard, along with continued cost discipline and a highly motivated team over 65,000 strong is proving to be a winning combination."

Norwegian Cruise Line Reveals Wyland's Visionary Hull Artwork for Norwegian Bliss
Continuing its tradition of featuring original artwork on its ship’s hulls, Norwegian Cruise Line today revealed the signature art designed by one of the world’s premier marine life artists, Wyland, for its upcoming new ship Norwegian Bliss, which will cruise to Alaska beginning in June 2018. Entitled “Cruising with the Whales,” the engaging and beautiful art prominently features a stunning image of a mother humpback whale and her calf as the centerpiece of the design, signifying the beauty of Alaska and the importance of conservation. Known for his iconic whale murals, marine life paintings and sculptures, Wyland has inspired generations to be passionate about preserving the oceans and the incredible wildlife that calls it home. Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief executive officer, joined Wyland to reveal the design today at the Wyland Galleries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

orwegian Cruise Line Reveals Wyland's Visionary Hull Artwork for Norwegian Bliss“Humpback whales are an iconic part of the Alaska landscape and one of the most compelling sights visitors can see while cruising the Last Frontier,” said Stuart. “It was only fitting that an artist of Wyland’s caliber should create the artwork for our first ship designed for Alaska, which includes humpback whales and other signature marine life found in the world’s oceans. We hope that our guests are just as inspired as we are by this beautiful artwork.”

The enormous extent of Wyland’s public artworks, his award-winning art galleries and his non-profit foundation’s community service projects have made him one of the world’s most recognized and beloved artists. An artist inspired by different canvases, Wyland has been diving the world’s oceans for the past 30 years and these wildlife encounters have inspired him to paint the animals life size, on more than 100 ocean murals throughout the US and 18 countries around the world. Wyland has taken advantage of Norwegian Bliss’ unique canvas to create a life size portrait of the planet’s most spectacular marine life, including giant manta rays, dolphins, sea lions and sea turtles, to give the viewer a sense of being part of the ocean’s realm. The beauty in Alaska and along the Pacific coast has inspired many of Wyland’s paintings and sculptures and contributed to his inspiration for Norwegian Bliss’ hull artwork.

“As a marine artist who has painted the largest murals in the world, it is an honor to have the opportunity to collaborate with Norwegian and present my art on such a grand scale,” said Wyland. “I can’t think of a more perfect canvas for a marine artist than Norwegian Bliss and I hope my art inspires people to see the beauty in nature and hopefully work to preserve it. Norwegian is as committed as I am to ensuring the health of the oceans and our planet and I look forward to our partnership as we use art, science and adventure to inspire a generation to take care of our blue planet.”

The third ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss will be the first cruise ship custom-built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience and the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to make its debut in Seattle. The ship will also come outfitted with exhaust gas scrubbers, which significantly decrease air emissions including the reduction up to 99 percent of sulfur into the atmosphere, furthering Norwegian’s commitment to protecting the unique ecosystems found throughout Alaska and across the world.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Bliss will be constructed at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, Germany and scheduled for delivery in Spring 2018. She will sail weekly seven-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle, offering guests the premier way to see America’s last frontier, while also providing all of the innovative features, entertainment, signature dining and onboard experiences that Norwegian Cruise Line is known for around the globe. The ship’s itinerary will feature calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising. Additional details on the ship’s accommodations, dining and onboard offerings will be shared in the coming months. Norwegian Bliss will be available for reservations beginning January 2017.

Princess Cruises Announces Partnership with French Chef Emmanuel Renaut
Princess Cruises announced a partnership with three-Michelin star Chef Emmanuel Renaut to develop the cruise line's next specialty restaurant concept. "La Mer – A French Bistro by Emmanuel Renaut" will debut aboard Majestic Princess in April 2017, the cruise line's newest ship tailored for the China market.

Followed by the partnership announcement with another Michelin star Chef Richard Chen, serving his interpretation of classic Cantonese dishes at Harmony, Majestic Princess will be the only cruise ship that offers two specialty dinner menus designed by Michelin star chefs at sea in China.

Princess Cruises Announces Partnership with French Chef Emmanuel RenautEmmanuel Renaut is the highly acclaimed Executive Chef of three Michelin star restaurant "Flocons de Sel," located in the French Alps village of Megève. Flocons de Sel was awarded its coveted third Michelin star in 2012, having earned its first Michelin star in 2004 and a second in 2006. Before establishing the restaurant in 1998, Chef Renaut cooked in some of the finest kitchens in Paris and London, including Hotel de Crillon, Claridge's and three-Michelin star Auberge de l'Eridan as sous chef to the celebrated Marc Veyrat.

"Adding Chef Renaut, another Michelin star chef, to Majestic Princess elevates the dining experience to an even higher level and reinforces our leading position as the best cruise line for foodies," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.

Offering an authentic yet updated Parisian bistro experience at La Mer, Chef Renaut is crafting a fine dining dinner menu featuring authentic French cuisine made unique with his modern twists – including both favorites from his Flocons Bistrot menu, as well as new concepts developed for La Mer. This specialty dinner experience will include a (to-be-determined) nominal cover charge. In addition, La Mer will offer complimentary lunch and breakfast options created by the Princess culinary teams.

"What I like most about my job is that dining experiences touch people's emotions," said Chef Renaut. "I've worked enthusiastically to design delicate and flavorful dishes and I'm really proud that the dinner menu I created will be served in the elegant and relaxed environment of La Mer. I am excited to bring a new, authentic French bistro dining experience to Majestic Princess."

Located in the lively atrium onboard Majestic Princess, La Mer has been exquisitely designed by Jeffrey Beers International (JBI), recognized as a leader in international hospitality architecture and design. This unique space combines French style and authentic Parisian details with breathtaking sea views through floor to ceiling windows, and offers the perfect vantage point to enjoy the activity and entertainment from the atrium Piazza below.

Departing April 4, 2017, the 143,000-ton Majestic Princess will sail on her inaugural voyage, a five-day Adriatic Sea cruise roundtrip from Rome with stops in Kotor and Corfu. Following her maiden cruise, Majestic Princess will tour Europe, offering guests a chance to experience the ship on 7-, 14-, 21- and 28-day cruises departing from Rome, Barcelona or Athens. A repositioning voyage will depart Rome on May 21, 2017, visiting Dubai and Singapore before arriving in Shanghai, her new home. Majestic Princess will begin her first cruise from its home-port in Shanghai on July 11, 2017, carrying 3,560 guests to a variety of destinations in Japan and Korea.

Princess Cruises Appoints New Director of Public Relations
Princess Cruises has appointed Negin Kamali to the role of director, public relations. Negin brings nearly 17 years of expertise in the public relations field developing communications strategies, creating innovative programs and managing public relations for major consumer lifestyle brands like Mattel, Nestlé and a portfolio of wine brands within Ste. Michelle Wines Estates including Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Negin Kamali Appointed Director of Public Relations for Princess Cruises.Prior to joining Princess, Negin was an executive director in the Los Angeles office of Golin. She spent 15 years at the agency developing and implementing award-winning programs for clients in the travel, food and wine, entertainment and consumer packaged goods industries.

During her time at Golin, Negin managed the Princess Cruises and Cunard Line accounts, spending seven years leading the Cunard Line account team. During that time she worked on the launch of Cunard's newest ship, Queen Elizabeth, and developed programs to help increase media coverage for the brand. Within this role, Negin also supported several major initiatives including the launch of Cunard's social media channels, the 2011 Rose Parade Float, onboard enrichment programming, in-port functions and familiarization trips.

"With her integrated consumer marketing communications experience, Negin adds tremendous value to the public relations department at Princess Cruises," said Brian O'Connor, vice president of public relations. "She is a welcomed leader to the department whose passion for public relations brings new ideas and approaches to continue to drive brand awareness and purchase intent for our cruises."

Negin earned a master's degree in corporate public relations from Boston University and received her bachelor of arts in communication from the University of California, San Diego, with a minor in law and society.

She is active in the public relations professional community, having served on the board of the Los Angeles chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-LA) from 2011- 2013, and guest lecturing at various area universities.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.10 + 4.47%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.87 + 9.27%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.21 - 0.90%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 38.87 + 2.13%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which was the first cruise/passenger ship to have televisions in every passenger cabin?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - I went to an Ocean Liner collectibles show a while back and stumbled across a set of deck plans for a ship named Seawise University. What was the previous name of this ship and how did she end her career?


Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - The Seawise University was originally the R.M.S Queen Elizabeth. She had been purchased by Orient Overseas Line Owner C. Y. Tung (C. Y.'s University-get it?) for use as the home of the World Campus Afloat Program-now Semesterat Sea from the University of Pittsburg. She sank in Hong Kong harbor about 1972 after being gutted by a fire of mysterious origin. She remained half visable for a number of years before being broken up.
courtesy of William L. Carpi


Cruise News - October 24, 2016

New Princess Cruises Livery Makes U.S. Debut
Princess Cruises revealed its new livery as Royal Princess made her U.S. debut on arrival into Ft. Lauderdale on October 22. The ship is the first to sail with the new hull design featuring the iconic brand mark, which was added during a recent dry dock in Civitavecchia, Italy.

Royal Princess arrives in Ft. Lauderdale with the new brand mark hull designThe 3,600 passenger ship is currently sailing the Caribbean with cruise fares starting from $899 per person, based on double occupancy.

The new livery design will roll out fleetwide over the next few years.

One of the most recognized brand logos in cruising; the design symbolizes the smooth and flowing gracefulness of ocean waves and represents the excitement and adventure of discovering the best the world has to offer on a Princess cruise vacation. The modern, sophisticated-look is designed to reinforce the premium experience of Princess Cruises, recognized around the world as a destination leader.

“For nearly half a century our Princess logo has represented the adventure of cruise travel around the globe,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Now our ships sail to more than 360 ports of call worldwide and will be instantly recognized from afar.

Royal Caribbean Names Godmother of Harmony of the Seas
The results are in; after a six-week search for an educator who is inspiring South Florida's next generation to dream big, think differently and challenge the status quo, 23-year-old Brittany Affolter from the Miami-Dade region of Teach For America, has been selected as Godmother of Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Harmony of the Seas. With this honor, Affolter will join the ranks of renowned athletes, celebrities and royalty when she officially breaks a bottle to name the ship on Nov. 10, 2016. Royal Caribbean received nearly one thousand nominations from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, of which three Finalists were selected and voted on by the public to help choose a South Florida hometown hero in education.

Brittany Affolter has been selected as  Godmother of Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Harmony of the Seas"The Godmothers of our ships are remarkable individuals whose life lessons and achievements are rooted in courage, dedication and determination," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Brittany exemplifies these qualities and so much more. We were exceptionally impressed by the passion she has for empowering our youth to believe in a better world and brighter future. She is wise beyond her years, and we can only imagine the accomplishments that she will continue to achieve."

"At Royal Caribbean, we view education as a crucial stepping stone for our young people," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We are very proud to be in a position to 'pay it forward' by celebrating the unsung heroes in our local communities who have dedicated their lives to this goal. Congratulations to Brittany and the nearly thousand other heroes who were nominated."

Brittany Affolter pursued a career in education as a way to pay it forward and inspire children in the same way she had been during her early years. She grew up in a challenging home environment where she received little support and guidance, and was able to remove herself from that setting with the help of teachers and mentors. Instead Affolter found the encouragement and inspiration she sought from caring and devoted teachers who believed in her, helping her realize that college was within grasp and that a quality education was essential for a successful, fulfilling life. Ultimately, these teachers advanced her to where she is today.

Affolter has been working with Teach For America Miami-Dade since 2014, engaging classrooms in Title 1 schools across the county that meet the needs of at-risk and low-income students. In order to reach as many kids in Miami as possible for the greatest impact, she now trains teachers at 14 high-need schools in Miami-Dade, serving more than 500 students. In her spare time, she tutors students, is working to become a mentor for children in foster care, and is completing her masters in educational leadership.

"I am so honored to have been selected as Godmother to Harmony of the Seas and hope that my story can help give a voice to all the hard-working teachers that give so much of themselves to make a meaningful difference," said Affolter. "It's most important for me to help kids understand that no matter what is going on in their lives, they can reach the dreams they have for themselves. It's amazing what you can achieve when you have the support and encouragement of teachers who go above and beyond."

Royal Caribbean set out to find a hometown hero in education to honor the homecoming of Harmony of the Seas, which will make her U.S. debut in a few short weeks when she arrives into her new homeport of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on November 5. The South Florida-based company sought an outstanding candidate that is making a positive impact on the community's youth and received nearly 1,000 motivating and heartfelt nominations. After narrowing the selection to three standout finalists, and thanks in part to votes from South Florida residents, Affolter rose to the top as the educator most deserving to be named Godmother of the world's largest cruise ship. Royal Caribbean will award a $25,000 grant to Teach For America Miami-Dade, funding education initiatives that further Affolter's mission to inspire the local community's youth.

"Leading a classroom to great results is no small feat," said Samantha Hoare, executive director of Teach For America Miami-Dade. "We see a lot of invaluable qualities in the future leaders who join our corps, most importantly, a desire to have a real impact in the community and a deep belief in the potential of all kids. We saw the makings of a great teacher, mentor and coach in Brittany, and thrilled that she is being recognized for her commitment to expanding opportunities for Miami-Dade's children through an excellent education."

For more information on how Affolter is inspiring the next generation, as well as the role of Royal Caribbean Godmothers, past and present, visit www.royalhometownhero.com.

Harmony of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship with a bold and unexpected lineup of thrilling experiences found nowhere else on land or at sea. Harmony combines the distinct seven-neighborhood concept that sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are known for, with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities, including imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology, such as VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. From the Ultimate Abyss, a thrilling 10-story tall slide, to unparalleled entertainment including Broadway's hit musical Grease and high-diving, acrobatic performances in the iconic AquaTheater, world-class dining in venues ranging from Jamie's Italian Cuisine by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to Wonderland, a unique whimsical culinary adventure for the senses; and robot bartenders, there is an adventure for guests of all ages onboard Harmony.

Harmony of the Seas spans 16 guest decks, encompasses 226,963 gross registered tons, carries 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and features 2,747 staterooms

Make the Most of Your Cruise Vacation: Here are Top 10 Tips from Cruise Experts
Officers in charge of hotel operations on cruise ships have seen it all: The first-time cruisers who come onboard big-eyed as they take in their impressive floating surroundings. Repeat cruisers arriving with plans to see and do everything. The overall joyful buzz as everyone begins a cruise vacation of a lifetime.

Whether you're a newbie or a frequent guest on the high seas, here are 10 tips from the pros on how to be a better cruiser.

Experience a sunrise and sunset. Getting up at dawn in a destination such as Alaska is not only impressively peaceful but brings your best opportunity to spot whales and other wildlife, says Adam Gorst, Princess Cruises hotel general manager on Emerald Princess.

One tip from cruise experts is to plan on rising early on at least one day to enjoy the spectacular views and peacefulness of sunrise on the ship's top deck.Grab your binoculars and position yourself on your balcony or on an open deck and enjoy your first cup of coffee – with views. Later, do drinks while watching the sun setting over the sea.

In between, you may want to take a power nap so you'll be prepared for the ship's full roster of late-night happenings.

Ask lots of questions. The crew has your best interests at heart and no question is too big or too small, says Jasper Wolthuis, hotel general manager on Coral Princess.

"Passengers shouldn't be shy about asking any crew member if they have a question. We can help maximize your time onboard," Wolthuis says.

"If you really want to get the best experience possible, ask every single question that comes to your mind," adds Don Habits, hotel director on Holland America Line's newest ship, ms Koningsdam. "We are here to ensure that our guests have a wonderful time, and we encourage our guests to ask questions as we are happy to help."

Read the daily newsletter. The newsletter delivered to your cabin each evening has a full listing of activities and entertainment happenings for the next day. You'll find information on festivities, contests, lectures, dress codes, dining times, sales at the shipboard shops and more.

Unfortunately, not everyone reads the information and it's not uncommon for people to hear about a shipboard activity after the fact, say the experts. Don't let this be you.

"Use the newsletter like you would a TV guide – circle or highlight everything you want to do so you don't miss out on anything," advises Alyn Baker, hotel general manager on P&O Cruises' Azura.

Advise the ship on special needs. It's always advisable to alert the cruise line well in advance of your sailing. This applies to any mobility restrictions, health issues, allergies and dietary needs and requests.

All of these can be best accommodated with advanced planning, the onboard experts say. The crew onboard ships does their best to take care of all needs, but if possible it is always best to avoid a last-minute scramble.

Plan to try new things. On your cruise vacation you'll be exposed to new places, dining choices and activities. Plan to make the most of what's available, says Henk J. Mensink, hotel director on Holland America Line's ms Amsterdam.

"The idea is, how do you know what you like until you try it?" Mensink says. "There is always something for everyone in our daily programming. Your personal entertainment is subjective, but our ability to entertain you is not."

P&O Cruises' Baker adds that part of the fun of cruising is experimenting.

"You only get out of a cruise what you put in so why not try to learn something new such as juggling or ballroom dancing or attend one of the lectures by specialist guest speakers?" she suggests.

Map out port days. Whether you are booking shore excursions or planning to explore independently, you'd be wise to do advance research on your ship's ports of call.

"I am always a bit confused by those who reach a port and then ask at the gangway, 'What is there to do here?' It pays to be ahead of the game," advises Jessica Schumann, hotel director on Holland America Line's ms Noordam.

Plenty of information is available online, or check out the travel books in your local public library or bookstore. Once onboard you'll find port experts who can offer further advice. You may also want to pick the brains of your fellow passengers.

"Many of Seabourn's guests are very well traveled and therefore they may have excellent tips and suggestions of things to do and places to see," says Josef Schuppler, hotel director on the Seabourn Quest.

Don't miss the ship. You may have heard horror stories of people heading off on their own in ports and then missing the ship. Such incidents are extremely rare, says Diane Belshaw, hotel operations & retail manager on P&O Cruises' Oceana.

Still, it's important to listen to shipboard announcements and note what time to be back onboard (times are posted in daily newsletter and at the gangway). If you do miss the ship or run into other issues on shore, know that the cruise line has you covered with a port agent onsite to help.

Consider pre-cruise overnights. If you have the time, most embarkation cities are great places to visit. Especially when traveling a long distance, you might consider arriving a day or two before your ship sails.

"There are a couple of important reasons as to why," says Cees Tesselaar, hotel director on Holland America Line's ms Prinsendam. "First, there is so much to see in these cities and you won't get to know them on the transfer bus between the airport and the ship. Second, you won't arrive onboard the ship exhausted from the flight. You will have had a couple of night's rest."

Pre-book everything you can. You may be able to book shore excursions and make reservations for spa treatments and specialty dining well before you set foot onboard your ship. You are wise to use this option when available, advises Freddy Esquivel, hotel director on the Carnival Sunshine.

That's because some popular tours sell out and booking in advance is also a timesaver.

"Rather than standing in line at the shore excursion desk, you can enjoy more time by the pool and doing other fun stuff," Esquivel advises.

Take time to explore your ship. It pays to become familiar with your ship's layout and amenities, advises Holland America Line's Schumann. That's what she did when she and her husband (who happens to be executive chef on the Noordam) vacationed on German brand AIDA.

"We spent our first day onboard exploring the ship from top to bottom to make sure we were not missing out on anything," she says. "The rest of our week was about enjoying all the ship and ports had to offer."

Disney Cruise Line Unveils Ports and Itineraries for Early 2018
Disney Cruise Line introduces a popular Caribbean destination — Bonaire — into the lineup of favorite itineraries for early 2018. Limited-time engagements in Puerto Rico and California, plus a variety of cruises from Florida, offer Disney Cruise Line guests the opportunity to visit exciting ports of call in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexican Riviera from January through May.

Bookings open to the public on Oct. 27, 2016.

All 2018 Disney Cruise Line sailings from Port Canaveral and Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean include a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island paradiseSan Juan to Southern Caribbean, including Bonaire
Bonaire is a new port of call for Disney Cruise Line and part of a seven-night sailing that departs San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 28. Located just north of the South American coast, the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire is favored for arid climate and sunny weather. Beautiful waters and a reef-lined coast lure water-sport enthusiasts for scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing and kiteboarding.

From San Juan, the Disney Wonder sets sail on three seven-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean. Departing Jan. 14, 21 and 28, each voyage offers a unique itinerary with four destinations and two days at sea. This limited-time engagement includes a combination of calls on Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba, St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St. Kitts.

San Diego
Disney Cruise Line will return to San Diego with seven Disney Wonder cruises to Baja and the Mexican Riviera, where guests can enjoy world-famous beaches and snorkeling. Five-night sailings visit Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico, while two- and three-night cruises call on Ensenada.

Friday departures for the two-night cruises offer the ultimate weekend getaway from San Diego.

Port Canaveral
With three Disney ships in port and cruise lengths spanning three, four and seven nights, vacationers looking for a Disney Cruise Line getaway in early 2018 have a full menu of options from Port Canaveral, Florida. Every sailing includes a day at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island paradise reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests.

The Disney Fantasy continues to sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages, while the Disney Dream embarks on three- and four-night cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay. From Feb. 8 through April 8, the Disney Wonder will alternate similar three-, four- and seven-night itineraries.

Miami
To kick off 2018, the Disney Magic continues sailing from Miami with four- and five-night voyages to the Bahamas, plus five-night Western Caribbean cruises.

Castaway Cay awaits guests aboard every one of these Disney Magic sailings. Other Bahamian ports of call include Nassau and Key West, while a stop in Grand Cayman or Cozumel headlines the Western Caribbean itineraries.

Fathom Celebrates the Meaningful and Collective Impact in the Dominican Republic
Fathom, the pioneer in social impact travel, today highlighted the collective impact made during its first 13 sailings to the Dominican Republic. Travelers have dedicated thousands of impact days to help areas of economic, educational and environmental opportunity to flourish in Dominican communities. From planting more than 16,000 seedlings to producing 730 clay water-filters, travelers have become part of something bigger and unleashed their own potential in fun, creative, engaging and surprising ways.

Fathom Celebrates the Meaningful and Collective Impact in the Dominican Republic"From the beginning, Fathom, our travelers and our incredible community partners have been weaving a beautiful impact mosaic that is inspiring hope and ongoing potential," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation & plc. "We have done this by learning, immersing and coming alongside the vision of our partner communities in a way that supports holistic flourishing. We participated closely with local community leaders and our partner organizations to understand their hopes and dreams for the region, and then identified specific, measurable success metrics we could track to begin understanding definitively certain elements of the impact story being woven together. It is humbling to see the collective impact story we are beginning to affect in just a few months."

During sailings to the beautiful Puerto Plata region on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, mindful travelers playfully engaged and participated alongside partners to learn, understand and address the various opportunities for local families. To date, Fathom travelers and local Dominicans have collectively:

Student English Conversation & Learning / Community English Conversation & Learning:
Impact: Fathom travelers provided approximately 17,500 hours of English interaction to individual adult and youth students, better preparing youth and adults for future employability and increased economic opportunity. Why It Matters: The largest driver of employment success in the tourist-driven Dominican Republic economy is English proficiency.

Water Filter Production:

• Impact: Fathom travelers produced and installed 730 water filters in community homes, positively impacting the health and wellbeing of thousands of local Dominicans.
• Why It Matters: The estimated 3,650 Dominican recipients of these filters will experience a reduction in instances of waterborne illnesses, as well as cost savings from not having to purchase expensive bottled water. Indirect benefits could include better work and school attendance.

Reforestation & Nursery:

• Impact: Fathom travelers planted more than 16,000 seedlings and plants, offsetting the environmental impact of travelers coming to the region.
• Why It Matters: Over time, Fathom's reforestation and nursery efforts will contribute to more nutrient-rich soil, helping to reduce soil loss, improve air and water quality, increase localized biodiversity and potentially producing higher agricultural yields for citizens.

Concrete Floors in Community Homes:

• Impact: Installed concrete floors in 40 homes, improving the living environments for hundreds of local Dominicans.
• Why It Matters: Concrete floors provide a safer and cleaner living environment for residents while reducing the health risks associated with dirt floors.

Cacao and Women's Chocolate Cooperative:

• Impact: Fathom travelers cleaned 3,700 pounds of cacao nibs, which translates to more than 109,000 finished chocolate bars; they also have wrapped, packaged and prepared for sale more than 57,400 products.
• Why It Matters: In a region with limited employment income, Fathom and its travelers are helping this small woman-owned business grow and thrive, which is contributing to the overall well-being of its employees and their families as well as other cooperatives.

Recycled Paper and Crafts Entrepreneurship:

• Impact: Fathom travelers produced more than 9,800 sheets of paper. vWhy It Matters: By helping entrepreneurs expand both their production and sales, Fathom travelers are creating critical income opportunities and financial independence for women workers. "We have seen tangible benefits thanks to our passionate travelers," said David Luther, executive director of Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral (IDDI). "Revenues have increased, wages have gone up accordingly and we've given hard-working and enterprising Dominican women a workshop to stay close to their families. The quality of work life has been greatly enhanced for the women who work there – and that's after just 13 sailings. When we look at the potential long-term impact, it's amazing to think what might be possible."

What sets Fathom apart is its shared-value partnership approach to creating significant, lasting and sustainable social impact within communities, while at the same time within the lives of its travelers. Additionally, Fathom's human impact journeys embrace fun and playfully engaging opportunities to develop human connections with like-minded travelers onboard and become a part of a global community that acts together for common good.

"My highlight of the trip was Community English. This impact activity not only gave us direct access to Dominican families and their homes, but we played an essential role in teaching them English," said Laura Lawson Visconti, a nonstop explorer from Truckee, Calif. "While this experience impacted me deeply, and I had to allow some time to process on my own later that evening in my cabin onboard Adonia, I was struck by the joy I felt from each Dominican I met. After a few moments together, we were family."

"The trip is not just about giving back, it's also about cultural immersion, discovering the beauty of the Dominican people/land, personal growth and yes, having fun," stated Justin Walter, a writer from Los Angeles, Calif.

"The Fathom experience attracts people who want to learn, give and be transformed through travel," said Ellen Christiansen, a travel advisor from Alexandria, Va. "A Fathom cruise bridges together people of all ages. While on my journey, I met everyone from young solo travelers to retired friends and couples, to families with young children; all stages of life, but all there with a sincere desire to give back in a unique new way."

The average household income in the Dominican is about $6,000 a year and more than three million people do not have access to piped water. However, the country has a strong infrastructure for impact including proven community development organizations with deep roots in the country.

Fathom worked closely with two of these organizations, along with various other stakeholder groups throughout the country – Entrena and the Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral, Inc. (IDDI) – to identify the areas of most need and undertake a range of projects focused on education, environment and economic development to provide meaningful, long-term and sustainable impact. Depending on travelers' interests, passions and desires, they venture off into intimate communities for up to three days to participate in social impact activities they care about, unleashing their potential and instantly developing friendships and partnerships.

While the impact results to date are real and tangible, Fathom is eager to continue building on the foundation laid by the company and its travelers to make meaningful, long-term and sustained impact. Fathom will continue taking up to 700 travelers to the Dominican Republic to adventure and come alongside local citizens for three days a week every other week, while continuing to closely monitor and measure its ongoing impact. The company has the potential to offer thousands of traveler impact days per month to its partner communities, so the results over time have the potential to be substantial.

The Queen Mary Hotel Named A Top Southern California Hotel
Condé Nast Traveler today announced the results of its 29th annual Readers' Choice Awards with The Queen Mary Hotel recognized in the "Top Hotels in Southern California" category with a No. 15 ranking.

The Queen Mary Hotel Named A Top Southern California Hotel""We are truly honored that The Queen Mary Hotel has been recognized by the trusted readers of Condé Nast Traveler, who are themselves experienced and adventurous travelers," said Taylor Woods, Co-Founder of Los Angeles-based real estate investment and development firm Urban Commons, the leaseholder of The Queen Mary. "This prestigious award is a testament to the unmatched level of personal service from our staff and the truly authentic and historical experiences we strive to provide onboard the ship. In addition to being a popular hotel and attraction, The Queen Mary is a storied landmark that we are fortunate enough to have right here in Southern California."

Over 300,000 dedicated readers – nearly twice as many as last year – cast votes for 7,394 hotels, 606 cities, 500 cruise ships, and 236 islands, in an average survey time of 8.4 minutes. The result? The 1,402 best travel experiences in the world.

No other hotel can boast traveling three and a half million miles since inception, but The Queen Mary – considered one of the grandest ocean liners ever built – offers guests unique hotel accommodations and a wide array of attractions that simply cannot be found anywhere else. Each of the 346 First-Class staterooms and suites offers 1930s decor featuring rich wood paneling and art deco fixtures with 21st century amenities. Guests can also pamper themselves at the Queen Mary Spa, shop at a variety of specialty boutiques or dine at one of the many fine dining and casual eateries.

In April 2016, Urban Commons assumed the 66-year master lease of The Queen Mary and the 65 total acres of land and water surrounding the ship. Recently, Urban Commons announced a $15 million renovation plan onboard the ship to enhance its original charm and capture the nostalgic excitement of travel. The company is also working on a large-scale development plan that will bring to life a must-visit mix of retail, dining, adventure and entertainment options on the acreage surrounding the ship.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.00 + 1.93%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 70.35 + 2.27%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.23 + 3.72%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 38.06 + 1.56%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - I went to an Ocean Liner collectibles show a while back and stumbled across a set of deck plans for a ship named Seawise University. What was the previous name of this ship and how did she end her career?


Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When the Carnival Spirit (893 feet long and 84,000 tons) entered service in 2001 how many plastic deck chairs did she carry for her 2,124 passengers (...closest answer wins)?

Answer - There were 1,275 plastic deck chairs on the Carnival Spirit when she entered service (editor note: closest answer, actual number was 1,200).
courtesy of Phyllis Montgomery, Atlanta, GA


Cruise News - October 17, 2016

Norwegian Cruise Line To Debut New Ship Designed For Alaska Cruising In 2018
Norwegian Cruise Line will once again pioneer a new era of Alaska cruising beginning June 2018, as the company announced today that its next new vessel, named Norwegian Bliss, will be the first cruise ship custom-built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience. Norwegian Bliss will cruise to America's Last Frontier from Seattle and will be the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to make its debut in the Emerald City.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Bliss will be the first cruise ship custom-built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience.At a ceremony held at Port of Seattle's Pier 66, Norwegian President and CEO Andy Stuart shared the exciting news, alongside Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick and Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Bliss will be the first cruise ship custom-built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience. Norwegian Bliss will cruise to America's Last Frontier from Seattle beginning in June 2018 and will be the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to make its debut in the Emerald City. Continuing Norwegian Cruise Line's tradition of decorating each ship's hull with signature art, Norwegian has announced that the world's premier marine life artist, Wyland, has been commissioned to design the hull artwork for Norwegian Bliss, coming in 2018. Known for his iconic whale murals, marine life paintings and sculptures, Wyland has inspired generations to be passionate about the importance of marine life conservation.

The third ship in the line's Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss is designed with features and amenities to offer guests the ultimate Alaska cruising experience. At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, the ship will be constructed at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, Germany and scheduled for delivery in Spring 2018.

After a transatlantic cruise and a Panama Canal transit through the new locks, the ship will sail north along the West Coast, reaching Seattle for the start of the summer cruising season. Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly seven-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle, offering guests the premier way to see America's last frontier, while also providing all of the innovative features, entertainment, signature dining and onboard experiences that Norwegian Cruise Line is known for around the globe. The ship's itinerary will feature calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising

Continuing Norwegian's tradition of decorating each ship's hull with signature art, Norwegian has also announced that the world's premier marine life artist, Wyland, has been commissioned to design the hull artwork for Norwegian Bliss. Known for his iconic whale murals, marine life paintings and sculptures, Wyland has inspired generations to be passionate about the importance of marine life conservation. The enormous extent of Wyland's public artworks, his award-winning art galleries and his non-profit foundation's community service projects have made him one of the world's most recognized and beloved artists. His engaging and beautiful design for Norwegian Bliss' hull art will be revealed later this month.

To further enhance the overall guest experience for cruisers from Seattle, Norwegian's parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has entered into a groundbreaking 15-year agreement with the Port of Seattle to collectively invest $30 million to upgrade the Pier 66 facilities. From expanding the guest check-in space by 300% to more than 150,000 square feet to a new VIP lounge with expansive views of Elliott Bay and the addition of two new elevated passenger boarding bridges to provide easy and comfortable passenger boarding, the new amenities will provide guests with the perfect send-off to start their Alaskan adventure.

"The Port of Seattle is proud to partner with Norwegian Cruise Line as we work to bring people from around the world to see the great Pacific Northwest from Seattle to Alaska," said Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick. "Our long relationship together is evident in this historic and unprecedented 15-year lease here at Pier 66."

Norwegian Bliss will feature amenities and interactive experiences that will excite and inspire, and more details on the ship's accommodations, dining and onboard offerings will be shared in the coming months. The ship will be available for reservations in January 2017.

Viking Star Arrives In New York
Viking Ocean Cruises today welcomed its first ship, Viking Star, into the New York harbor as part of its inaugural North American voyage. The 930-guest ship docked at Manhattan Cruise Terminal at noon, just after sailing past the Statue of Liberty with a reception by New York Fireboats. On October 11, Viking officially commemorated its first United States port of call in Boston, with a traditional maritime plaque ceremony attended by local officials and dignitaries. This is the first time Viking has sailed into North American ports, which are part of the company's new itineraries exploring the Americas and the Caribbean.

Viking Star, the first 930-passenger ocean ship from Viking Cruises, sails past One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan"To sail past Ellis Island and into New York for the first time is a proud moment for our entire Viking family. With the same spirit as the Vikings who originally sailed their longships across the Atlantic, arriving in North America signifies a new era of possibilities for our company and our guests," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "As our fleet continues to grow, we will look for new ways to bring our unique destination-focused approach to more regions of the world. There are no kids onboard, and there are no umbrella drinks. Instead, our Caribbean itineraries are inspired by iconic 18th century navigation routes and were developed to highlight the rich history and culture of the region."

The world's leading river cruise line, Viking was recently awarded top honors as the #1 Ocean Cruise line in Travel + Leisure's 2016 World's Best Awards. After departing from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on October 14, Viking Star will sail for San Juan, Puerto Rico, which will serve as her homeport for the winter season. From San Juan, the ship will sail the 11-day West Indies Explorer itinerary, which also calls on ports in the British Virgin Islands, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With no sea days on the itinerary, guests are able to avoid the time at sea typically associated with Caribbean cruises originating in Florida. While sailing West Indies Explorer, guests will have an opportunity to learn onboard about the destinations from local experts, historians and lecturers, as well as through a variety of shore excursions, including optional visits to museums, gardens and historic sites. Viking Star will return to Europe in February 2017, with a transatlantic sailing from San Juan to Barcelona.

Designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships, Viking's ocean ships feature:

• All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. Veranda Stateroom, all with private verandas and premium amenities that include king-size beds with luxury linens, large showers, luxury toiletries, heated bathroom floors and large interactive flat-screen LCD TVs with movies-on-demand.

• Explorer Suites: The ship will feature 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wraparound private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.

• Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable roof permitting any-season swimming, the ship features a first-of-its-kind glass-backed Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination.

• LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking's Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 named it one of the "5 best cruise ship spas."

• Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's: Share a cocktail with friends. Linger over a Norwegian breakfast and a nautical history book. The Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's gourmet deli are thoughtful spaces located at the bow and designed in the Scandinavian spirit, for complete relaxation and for marveling at sweeping views through double-height windows.

• The Wintergarden: Guests looking for serenity will find it in the Wintergarden. In this elegant space, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood – an homage to Norse mythology and Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life.

• Dining Choices: Viking's ocean ships offer multiple restaurant locations and food choices—from fine dining in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and the widest choice of culinary options, and the World Café, which serves international fare and regional specialties—to intimate dining experiences at The Chef's Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu complete with wine parings, and Manfredi's, which features freshly prepared pastas and Italian favorites. Additionally, The Kitchen Table experience focuses on regional dishes from market to table; the Pool Grill specializes in gourmet burgers; afternoon tea and scones are available in the Wintergarden; and Mamsen's serves Norwegian deli-style fare. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking's ships offer the most al fresco dining at sea.

• Enriching Entertainment: Connecting guests to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking in creating "the thinking person's cruise." Instead of casinos and water slides, guests are offered Viking's Culture Curriculum including: world-class lectures on history and art; tasting of vintage wines from their destinations; restaurant menus inspired by local cuisine; informative port talks; enriching Destination Performances featuring folkloric shows and musicians playing regional and classical music; an onboard cooking school allowing guests to learn how to prepare local specialties.

• Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking's ocean ships feature energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull and bow for maximum fuel efficiency and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.

Carnival Signs Agreement To Expand Terminal Operations At The Port Of Long Beach
Carnival Cruise Line has signed an agreement with landlord Urban Commons and the City of Long Beach, Calif., to expand the Long Beach Cruise Terminal facility to accommodate larger ships in the future and enhance its terminal operations. The deal will nearly triple the size of Carnival's current terminal facility from approximately 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet.

Carnival Signs Agreement To Expand Terminal Operations At The Port Of Long BeachCarnival has operated the Long Beach Cruise Terminal since 2003 using a partial area of the Geodesic Dome that was the former museum housing Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" attraction. The agreement gives Carnival 100 percent use of the Dome, allowing for larger ships and providing additional space needed to accommodate two-way operations, enabling embarking guests to access the terminal prior to completion of disembarkation. Construction is slated to be completed in late 2017. During the construction period, measures will be taken to ensure a continued smooth operational flow and high standard of customer service for cruise guests.

"For years we have been working toward reaching an agreement to expand the Long Beach Cruise Terminal to accommodate larger ships on the West Coast, and we're thrilled to finally be able to move forward with our plans to assume full usage of the Dome, making Long Beach one of our largest homeport facilities," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "We would like to thank the City of Long Beach and Urban Commons for their efforts in facilitating this expansion that will ultimately enhance the guest experience and build upon our leadership position as the number one cruise operator from the West Coast."

"The expansion of the Carnival Cruise terminal is great news for Long Beach and great news for visitors to our city," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "The added capacity will bring more tourism and economic activity to Long Beach, and we're pleased to continue working with Carnival for many years to come."

Added Taylor Woods, co-founder of Urban Commons, "Carnival Cruise Line is a tremendous asset for the Long Beach community, and we are pleased to reach an agreement with their team that will support the exciting expansion of their operations immediately adjacent to The Queen Mary. We have big plans for the facility and the surrounding land, and Carnival's success will only add to the vitality and energy of what promises to be one of the top destinations in California. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Carnival for many years to come."

Plans also include expansion of portside cold-ironing capacity to accommodate larger vessels. The technology enables cruise ships to plug into the local electric grid and reduce exhaust emissions while docked. In addition, Carnival is working with Urban Commons on enhancements to the area surrounding the dome and the adjacent Queen Mary attraction, as well as ways to expand parking capacity to accommodate future growth.

Currently, the recently enhanced Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination operate year-round three- and four-day Baja cruises from Long Beach while Carnival Miracle sails seven-day voyages to the Mexican Riviera and 14- and 15-day cruises to Hawaii and Alaska round-trip from Long Beach.

Royal Caribbean Adds More Sailings To Longest-Ever Singapore Season
As Mariner of the Seas returns to Singapore today to launch Royal Caribbean International’s longest-ever Southeast Asian season, Royal Caribbean International announces that due to popular demand, it will be extending this season till next June with an additional nine sailings. Vacationers will now have a total of 64 sailings in the region to choose from.

Royal Caribbean Adds More Sailings To Longest-Ever Singapore SeasonAt the same time today, Royal Caribbean also received Travel Weekly Asia’s Readers Choice Awards for ‘Best Cruise Line - International’ and ‘Best Cruise Line - Family’. The awards honour the “best of the best” in the travel industry which have provided exceptional service and products in the past year. The winners were voted by Travel Weekly Asia’s readers on over 40 categories representing the different segments of the travel industry.

The global cruise brand is renowned for its innovative ships and wide range of first-at-sea amenities that have been redefining the cruise experience in Asia, notably the North Star elevated glass capsule and skydiving simulator on Asia’s newest and largest ship Ovation of the Seas, as well as the Royal Promenade and ice skating rink on its Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.

Sean Treacy, Managing Director, Singapore & Southeast Asia of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said, “Winning these prestigious awards is a great honour for us. We thank the Travel Weekly Asia readers and our industry partners for their recognition and strong support. As we look forward to our 10th anniversary in Asia next year, we aim to grow Royal Caribbean as a top vacation choice in Asia with our innovative ships and revolutionary onboard experiences, as we deliver to everyone “the One holiday” with “endless adventures”.

Royal Caribbean kick-starts its longest-ever Singapore season today, first on Mariner of the Seas with 41 sailings of 3 to 10 nights to popular destinations in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China till March 2017. Highlights include the Salsa Cruise this December and the second Cosfest Sea Cruise next February.

Ovation of the Seas will be back in March to April 2017 with a total of 10 new sailings, comprising 3 to 5 nights to Penang, Phuket, Bangkok (Laem Chabang) and a 12-night one-way cruise to Tianjin with calls at Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) for an overnight, Hue/Danang (Chan May), Hong Kong and Seoul (Incheon).

Following this will be Voyager of the Seas returning from May to June 2017 to offer 13 sailings of three to five night Southeast Asian itineraries to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang, Phuket and an 8-night one-way cruise to Hong Kong, with stopovers at Bangkok (Laem Chabang) for an overnight, Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) and Nha Trang.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.11 - 2.95%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 68.79 - 6.67%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.15 + 1.42%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 37.47 - 2.62%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When the Carnival Spirit (893 feet long and 84,000 tons) entered service in 2001 how many plastic deck chairs did she carry for her 2,124 passengers (...closest answer wins)?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When the former American Export liner Constitution returned to service for American Hawaii cruises in 1982 she was rechristened by one of her famous former passengers. Who was given this honor?

Answer - Which former cruise ship received special permission to fly the flag of the United Nations in honor of the over 25 nationalities represented in her crew?
courtesy of Patti Stasiak


Cruise News - October 10, 2016

Royal Caribbean Orders Two LNG and Fuel Cell Powered Ships
The newest class of ships from Royal Caribbean Cruises will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and introduce the use of fuel cell technology, ushering in a new era of shipbuilding that will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.The ships will join the fleet of Royal Caribbean International, an industry leader in innovation and breakthrough ship design.

RCL said that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name "Icon." The vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024. In the meantime, the company said, it will begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum class vessels being built in the next several years.

Royal Caribbean Orders Two LNG and Fuel Cell Powered ShipsRoyal Caribbean is already known for making steady progress on energy efficiency and reduced emissions through such technologies as air lubrication, which sends billions of microscopic bubbles along the hull of a ship to reduce friction, and AEP scrubbers, which clean exhaust gases before they leave the ship. Use of the new technologies will result in much cleaner emissions, as they produce no sulfur and significantly reduce the production of nitrogen oxides and particulates.

"With Icon class, we move further in the journey to take the smoke out of our smokestacks," said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. "We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility, and Icon gives us the opportunity to deliver against all three of these pillars."

"Our guests expect us to push every envelope we can," said Michael Bayley, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International. "And on this new class of ship, we began by challenging ourselves to find a new approach to power and propulsion that is safe, reliable, and more energy-efficient than ever before." Bayley added that exciting and innovative new guest experience elements of the Icon class design will be revealed later in the development process.

"Our partnership with RCL has created a number of groundbreaking ship classes, such as Oasis, Celebrity Solstice, Quantum, and Mein Schiff, and we are grateful that Royal Caribbean is again giving us the opportunity to partner with them on a new class of ships," said Jan Meyer, the CEO of Meyer Turku.

The switch to LNG provides further momentum for the technology, which has begun making significant inroads in the maritime industry. "Increasing the commitment to LNG makes it easier for suppliers to make their own infrastructure commitments," said Fain. "As more ships are built for LNG, the number of ports that support it will grow." The Icon ships are expected to run primarily on LNG but will also be able to run on distillate fuel, to accommodate occasional itineraries that call on ports without LNG infrastructure.

The introduction of fuel cells represents another dramatic step forward for the maritime industry, which has only made limited experiments using the technology. "We believe fuel cells offer very interesting design possibilities," said Harri Kulovaara, RCL's chief of ship design. "As the technology becomes smaller and more efficient, fuel cells become more viable in a significant way to power the ship's hotel functions. We will begin testing those possibilities as soon as we can, and look to maximize their use when Icon class debuts."

Kulovaara said RCL had been eyeing fuel cells for nearly a decade, and believes the technology is now at a stage of development that justifies investment. "There is a long lead time for Icon class, and we will use that time to work with Meyer Turku to adapt fuel cell technology for maritime use." Kulovaara said that additional regulatory standards would also need to be developed for the technology.

Because of the long lead time, Kulovaara said that many Icon design elements are in early stages. The Icon ships would likely accommodate approximately 5,000 passengers, he said, but details are still being worked out.

Icon is the first new ship class announced by RCL since Celebrity Cruises' new Edge class, which debuts in 2018. The company is also expanding its fleet with new Oasis- and Quantum-class ships for Royal Caribbean International. Fain said the new ships are in line with RCL's strategy of moderate capacity growth.This order is contingent upon the completion of contractual conditions, including documentation and financing. Final contracts are expected to be completed by year end. Based upon current ship orders, projected capital expenditures for full year 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are $2.4 billion, $0.5 billion, $2.6 billion, $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion, respectively. Capacity increases for 2016 through 2020 remain unchanged and do not include potential ship sales or additions that the company may elect to make in the future.

Genting Dream Delivered By MEYER WERFT
Today in Bremerhaven, MEYER WERFT handed over the new cruise ship Genting Dream (151,300 GT) to the Asian cruise operator company Dream Cruises. Together with the new design, this luxury liner offers passengers a wide range of special features and comfort. About 75% of the cabins are outer cabins and most of these have their own balcony. Furthermore, Dream Cruises has a crew of around 1,700 to offer passengers a particularly high standard of service.

Royal Caribbean Orders Two LNG and Fuel Cell Powered ShipsFor the first time, this cruise ship also carries two small deep sea submarines that can each take four people down to a depth of up to 200 metres. Entertainment on the ship is guaranteed state of the art thanks to an interactive communication system and extensive stage equipment. Environmentally friendly marine engines, diesel-electric pod drives, and improved hydrodynamics as well as numerous energy saving measures, heat recovery or ballast water cleaning all contribute to an ecological cruise experience and considerably reduced operating costs. The ship has also been designed and built according to the latest safety regulations.

Genting Dream has 35 restaurants and bars; various entertainment facilities such as theatres, bowling and a climbing park, as well as plenty of space for other outdoor activities. Great priority is given here to relaxation and recuperation. The ship has a Genting Club with 142 suites that offers the guests special privileges like an exclusive VIP pool as well as a separate spa area. On Genting Dream the first MRT (magnet resonance tomography) onboard of a cruise ship is installed.

The new ship for Dream Cruises has capacity for about 4,500 passengers in 1,674 cabins. The Genting Dream is 335 meters long, 39.7 meters wide and can reach a speed of more than 23 knots. The new cruise ship is designed for the rapidly developing Chinese cruise market.

After being handed over to the owner in Bremerhaven, Genting Dream will set sail to destinations in Pacific Asia where it will offer cruises for two, five and seven nights. Sailing from Hong Kong, it will cruise through spectacular regions in Vietnam and China.

The Genting Dream (yard number S. 711) was funded with innovation grants from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the state of Lower Saxony as a lead ship development that made first-time use of innovative components.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Transforms Compass Rose Into Largest Specialty Restaurant at Sea
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is revolutionizing its gourmet dining experience fleet-wide by transforming its signature restaurant, Compass Rose, into the largest specialty restaurant at sea. The new concept and menu for Compass Rose offer an unprecedented, fully customized epicurean experience with an unequaled variety of gourmet options available nightly. Completely transforming the main dining room experience, the new Compass Rose experience brings together two Regent Seven Seas Cruises hallmarks - exquisite gourmet dining and unrivaled personalized service.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Transforms Compass Rose Into Largest Specialty Restaurant at Sea This bold, innovative new culinary approach provides guests with a seemingly endless combination of dishes to choose from during dinner service at Compass Rose. Guests can select from more than a dozen different meat, fish and seafood items, have it prepared to taste, garnish with a sauce of choice and pick from a wide variety of side dishes and accompaniments to complete the meal. Additionally, each evening the ship’s executive chef creates nightly specials, which adds more than a dozen mouthwatering appetizers, pasta dishes and entrée choices to the menu. To complete the meal, Compass Rose will offer a separate dessert menu with international cheeses, premium handmade ice creams and delectable pastries, cakes, crumbles and soufflés.

“In much the same way we changed the luxury cruise market by offering the industry’s only true all-inclusive luxury experience, we’re now revolutionizing the dining experience by introducing the largest specialty restaurant at sea,” said Jason Montague, president and chief executive officer for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “Our culinary team has created a truly extraordinary dining experience for Compass Rose with a degree of customization and variety typically reserved for more intimate specialty restaurants. We tested this new menu concept on a couple test cruises over the summer and our guests absolutely love it.”

The menu for Compass Rose is divided into two equal portions. The left-hand side provides guests with the ability to fully customize their dinner, while the right-hand side feature’s the executive chef’s nightly specials as well as a multi-course “menu degustation.” For the customizable section of the menu, guests can select from a list of high-quality entrees that include seafood items like lobster, shrimp, scallops, salmon and dover sole, or specialty cuts such as New York strip steak, filet mignon, lamb chops and veal medallions.

After making their selection, guests determine how they would like it prepared – grilled, baked, broiled, poached, or roasted – and select from a complementary list of sauces to garnish the dish, such as madeira-truffle, creamy herb, hollandaise, green peppercorn and hickory barbeque. From there, guests can choose from more than a dozen side items that range from lyonnaise potatoes, potatoes gratin and sweet potato fries, to sautéed spinach, brussel sprouts and green asparagus.

Adding to the variety, the ship’s executive chef will prepare a list of special appetizers and entrees for the dinner service. Since Compass Rose is the ship’s primary dining room, the dinner specials will change nightly with sample entrees that include veal medallions oscar, braised turbot fillet, cornish hen, roasted duck Beijing style and seared mahi mahi.

Capping off the gourmet meal, guests will find a dessert menu filled with new decadent offerings each and every night. The dessert menu will always feature a selection of fine international cheeses offered with a glass of port wine, assorted crackers and French bread along with a variety of handmade premium ice creams and sorbets. Guests will delight in nightly specials prepared by the ship’s pastry chef such as Tanzanian chocolate cake, almond croquant, bananas foster and Viennese apple strudel.

“The culinary teams on our ships have always been able to cater to our guests’ special culinary desires with advanced notice,” said Bernhard Klotz, senior director of culinary for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “The new Compass Rose menu is so encompassing and customizable that guests with special dining requests no longer need to make them in advance, our chefs can prepare whatever their heart’s desire a la minute.”

Along with the dinner menu, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is also reinventing the lunch menu for Compass Rose on Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner. In celebration of the launch of Seven Seas Explorer, Compass Rose on the line’s other ships will feature lunch selections from the three specialty restaurants on Explorer - Prime 7, Chartreuse and Pacific Rim. As with the dinner menu, the lunch menu will be updated daily and feature entrée items such as Croque-Monsieur or Croque-Madam from Chartreuse, Aromatic Duck from Pacific Rim and Yellowfin Tuna Salad from Prime 7.

Guests on Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Navigator were treated to a preview of the Compass Rose menu during a multi-week test period, and it will remain as the standard menu for those two ships moving forward. The menu is scheduled to debut Nov. 9, 2016 on Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner on May 13, 2017, following each ship’s scheduled dry dock.

Royal Caribbean Selects Three Educators As Finalists For Harmony Of The Seas' Godmother
After receiving nearly one thousand motivating and heartfelt nominations from across South Florida, three standout candidates have been selected as finalists in Royal Caribbean International's search for an educator who is inspiring the next generation to dream big, think differently and challenge the status quo. On Oct. 24, one finalist will be named the winner, and honored as Godmother of Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest and most innovative cruise ship, during an official naming ceremony on Nov. 10, 2016. The South Florida-based cruise line also will award a $25,000 grant to the winner's school or non-profit organization, funding education initiatives that further her mission to inspire the local community's youth.

Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley shows off the cruise line's newest ship, Harmony of the Seas."We've seen an overwhelming response from the community with an outpouring of exceptional nominations from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. It is an honor to be able to recognize such inspiring educators for the work they do to make a positive impact on our youth," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "These three upstanding individuals have demonstrated unwavering passion and dedication, going above and beyond the classroom to make a huge difference in the community. We thank everyone who participated by recognizing our many heroes in education; they are leading the way in inspiring our youth to dream big, and that's work we all can be proud of."

The three educators chosen as finalists are:

• Brittany Affolter, Manager, Teacher Leadership Development, Teach for America Miami-Dade
Brittany Affolter was inspired by her teachers to leave an unhealthy home, attend college, and become an educator. To help pay it forward to others like her, Brittany now trains teachers at 14 low-income schools in Miami-Dade County, serving more than 500 students. In her spare time, she tutors her former students, is working to become a mentor for children in foster care, and completing her masters in educational leadership. At just 23 years old, Brittany's accomplishments are many and include starting the first-ever robotics and coding after-school program while teaching at Miami-Dade County public schools as a Teach for America corps member, and engaging her students to author a book about making the world a better place, which received attention from the White House and major sports organizations, such as the Miami Dolphins football team.

• Katherine O'Fallon, Magnet Coordinator, New River Middle School
Katherine (Katie) O'Fallon has been sharing her passion and knowledge for marine science with middle school students since 2006, and quickly learned that her greatest joy came from the wonder in a child's discovery of their passion for marine science. She strives to inspire students to immerse themselves in the underwater world, and apply what they learn by getting involved in their local community. Exposing her sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to environmental issues, Katie fosters stewardship and encourages them to be proactive in preserving and protecting their local habitat. She hosts multiple coastal clean-ups, engaging everyone from students and parents, to faculty and community partners; and organizes a variety of daily field experiences for students, including snorkeling trips in Fort Lauderdale and the Keys, shark-tagging with Nova Southeastern University and trips to local state parks. One of Katie's newest and most innovative projects is the school's remotely operated vehicles (ROV) program, where students learn and hone their skills in both the marine and engineering disciplines.

• Anike Sakariyawo, Physical Science Teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School
Anike Sakariyawo has taught various grade levels for more than 13 years, and is currently the physical science teacher lead for the ninth-grade students at Miami Norland Senior High School. Anike's passion for education extends beyond the classroom and standard school schedule; she is the founder of Seeking Education Empowers Knowledge (S.E.E.K.) ? a local non-profit that aims to empower teenagers, parents, teachers and the community. S.E.E.K. serves over 1,000 at risk youth in urban and rural areas with unique programming such as digital literacy, robotics, coding, electricity basics and how to create a product and a business plan. Each year, she holds the "Get Hip & Fit Fair" in July on Miami Beach for more than 500 kids from Miami-Dade and Broward County non-profit organizations, and also works with student volunteers to feed and clothe the homeless each month.

For more information on each of the finalists as well as the role of Royal Caribbean godmothers, past and present, visit www.royalhometownhero.com.

Harmony of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship. Harmony combines the distinct seven-neighborhood concept that sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are known for, with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities, including imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology, such as VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. From the Ultimate Abyss, a thrilling 10-story tall slide, to unparalleled entertainment including Broadway's hit musical Grease and high-diving, acrobatic performances in the iconic AquaTheater, world-class dining in venues ranging from Jamie's Italian Cuisine by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to Wonderland, a unique whimsical culinary adventure for the senses; and robot bartenders, there is an adventure for guests of all ages onboard Harmony.

Harmony of the Seas spans 16 guest decks, encompasses 226,963 gross registered tons, carries 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and features 2,747 staterooms.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.51 - 3.30%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 73.71 - 1.15%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.12 - 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 38.48 + 1.85%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which former cruise ship received special permission to fly the flag of the United Nations in honor of the over 25 nationalities represented in her crew?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When the former American Export liner Constitution returned to service for American Hawaii cruises in 1982 she was rechristened by one of her famous former passengers. Who was given this honor?

Answer - OCEANIC CONSTITUTION was renamed CONSTITUTION and christened bt HRH Princess Grace of Monaco, who had sailed on the CONSTITUTION to her wedding to Prince Ranier. Princess Grace had christened the CUNARD PRINCESS 5 years earlier in New York.
courtesy of dip156@yahoo.com

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